Derelict British Airways training centre at Heathrow left to rot

Fly tip! Derelict British Airways training centre at Heathrow is left to rot with MOSS growing on tables and debris strewn across the floor

  • British Airway’s Cranebank training centre near Heathrow has been left derelict
  • Pilots and cabin crew trained at the hub, which has a Boeing 737-400 simulator
  • Course also allowed passengers to experience what a plane crash would feel like

Stark footage has captured the derelict remains of British Airways once-thriving training facility. 

The Cranebank centre, near Heathrow, was used to train some 17,000 cabin crew and 4,000 pilots, equipping them for emergencies on its Boeing 737 simulator.

But passenger seats, cabin furnishings and classrooms now sit covered in moss in the mothballed centre. 

The Cranebank centre, near Heathrow, was used to train some 17,000 cabin crew and 4,000 pilots

Classrooms inside the centre have been left in situ, covered in moss, dirt and dust 

The Boeing 737 simulator – which was used by thousands of pilots and cabin crew – remains at the centre

A Flight Safety Awareness Course in London took place inside the facility’s Boeing 737 cabin simulator

Passenger seats, cabin furnishings and classrooms now sit covered in moss in the mothballed centre

Cranebank once offered a course which allowed passengers to experience what a plane crash at 30,000ft would feel like.

The half-day Flight Safety Awareness Course in London took place inside the facility’s Boeing 737 cabin simulator and cost £135.

As well as a smoke-filled cabin and passengers’ screams, crew would shout the emergency ‘brace! Brace!’ as participants adopted the position, readying them for an incident in the air.   

The Flight Safety Awareness Course was originally designed for the petrochemical industry who fly their staff to wherever oil and gas is located in the world. 

Since its inception in 2003, more than 15,000 people took part in the course. 

Training was moved out of the facility several years ago and the airline now runs seminars, workshops and training at the British Airways Global Learning Academy at London Heathrow.

The new centre has a fleet of £10million full-motion flight simulators. 

Pilots and cabin crew once trained inside these classrooms at the hub near Heathrow 

The Cranebank centre was used to train some 17,000 cabin crew and 4,000 pilots

British Airways was the largest operator of the B-747 400 until the decision was made to ground the fleet.

In total, more than 3.5 billion people have travelled on the Boeing 747.

Its last passenger flight was from San Francisco to Heathrow in April 2020, with its retirement brought forward several years as a consequence of the pandemic.

The footage comes amid mounting fury at the lack of taxpayer-funded support for struggling airports. 

The Government last year agreed to pay a subsidy, worth up to £8 million per airport, to help them pay business rates – but the scheme has still not been launched and even when it is, it will cover just a fraction of the costs paid by the major airports. 

British Airways’ parent company IAG suffered a £5.1billion loss in the first nine months of 2020 after profits plunged due to coronavirus.

In a stark comparison, over the same period in 2019, the airline group saw profits of £1.6billion.

In November, the airline suspended all flights from Gatwick airport and furloughed ‘many more’ staff as the Covid continued to bite. 

British Airways has been contacted for comment.  

Cranebank once offered a course which allowed passengers to experience what a plane crash at 30,000ft would feel like

The world-class facility was mothballed as British Airways opened a global learning academy nearby


The wide body, four-engine Boeing 747-400 is an iconic part of British Airways’ fleet. 

BA, the world’s largest operator of the Boeing 747, describes the 747-400 as ‘a proven performer with high reliability’ which boasts high reliability and has incorporated major aerodynamic improvements over earlier 747 models, which have a history stretching back 50 years.

The aircraft’s life begins in April 1970 when BOAC – which would later merge with BEA to form today’s airline – took delivery of its first Boeing 747-100, which was the 23rd to be constructed by Boeing, according to its line number. 

BOAC then took delivery of another 14 aircraft over the next three years, with the 15th aircraft delivered in December 1973. 

A Boeing 747 long-range wide-body four engined commercial jet airliner for the BOAC – British Overseas Airways Corporation flying above the United Kingdom on 7 April 1971

None of those early models remain flying today. Most were scrapped, a handful were stored, and BA’s first 747 left the fleet in October 1998, aviation publisher Simple Flying reports.  

After BOAC and BEA merged, the 15 Boeing 747s was transferred to British Airways on April 1, 1974. 

BA took delivery of four 747-100s, bringing the total fleet size to 19. 

On February 18, 1991, British Airways’ Boeing 747-100 was destroyed in Kuwait during the Gulf War, becoming the only BA 747-100 to be involved in a hull loss during its time with the airline. 

BA received its first Boeing 747-200 on June 22, 1977, and the airline went on to operate a total of 24 passenger 747-200s that were delivered between 1977 and 1988. 

No British Airways 747-200s were involved in hull loss while with the airline.  

The Boeing 747-400 is the BA model most familiar to us today, and is the only type still in service with British Airways today. 

BA’s first 747-400 was delivered in June 1989, and it flew with the flag carrier for nearly 30 years. 

The airline operated a total of 57 Boeing 747-400s, meaning that BA has operated 100 passenger 747s and one cargo 747.  

747-400s were delivered for ten years until April 1999, making BA’s youngest aircraft 21 years old. 

British Airways announced that its fleet of Boeing 747 aircraft, fondly known as ‘The Queen of the Skies’, are likely to have flown their last scheduled commercial service

But the ‘queen of the skies’ will no longer don the red, white and blue of the Union Jack after British Airways retired its fleet of Boeing 747s as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The airline, which was the world’s biggest operator of the 747-400 model, had already planned to ground its fleet of 31 of the iconic wide-bodied jets in 2024.

But the pandemic, which has seen most of the world’s planes grounded for the best part of three months, has hastened its journey into retirement, especially as forecasters predict that passenger numbers will remain lower than normal, potentially for years to come.

BA’s predecessor BOAC had first used the 747 in 1971 and, as with many airlines, the plane – affectionately referred to as either the ‘jumbo jet’ or the ‘queen of the skies’ – became a symbol of the new age of mass travel to all corners of the planet. 

Fairford, July 20, 2019: A British Airways special liveried Boeing 747 takes to the skies alongside the Red Arrows during the 2019 Royal International Air Tattoo. The Boeing 747 has been painted in the airline’s predecessor British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) livery to mark British Airways’ centenary

Its days have been numbered, though, in light of new, modern, fuel-efficient aircraft such as Airbus’ A350 and Boeing’s 787.

More than 1,500 jumbos were produced by Boeing, and it has historically been a commercial success for the manufacturer and the airlines. But its heyday is long in the past and any sight of the jet, with its distinctive hump at the top, is now a rarity.

Just 30 of the planes were in service as of Tuesday, with a further 132 in storage, according to aviation data firm Cirium.

British Airways’ 747-400s have a capacity of 345 passengers and can reach a top speed of 614 mph. 

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