Police today acknowledged leaving a stick of explosive on a British Airways jumbo jet and letting it fly several times with the gelignite, left on board by a bomb-detection team during a dog-training drill.
The incident sparked a new controversy over airline security.
A cleaning worker found the gelignite, which officials said could flare up but not explode, aboard the Boeing 747 on Monday at London’s Heathrow Airport, said Independent Television News, which broke the story Wednesday night.
The plane had just returned from a flight to Toronto.
The Department of Transport said today it has called for an urgent report. British Airways Chairman Lord King promised “a most thorough and detailed investigation,” saying: “If heads fall, they fall.”
An airline spokesman, Derek Ross, said cleaners found the substance under a seat at the rear of the plane. ITN news said it was there about two weeks, during which the 747 made several journeys.
Airport sources said it was believed that the package was placed in a seat pocket and then slipped through into the upholstery.
Scotland Yard said police use British Airways planes for explosive search training from time to time.