Pilot of British Airways flight with Tony Blair on board misjudged Miami airstrip

The pilot of a commercial jet carrying British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his family misjudged the length of an airstrip, causing the plane to overshoot the runway at Miami International Airport last month, federal investigators said.

The captain of British Airways Flight 209 told airport officials that he thought the runway ended farther away than it actually did, according to the National Transportation Safety Board's preliminary report. He stopped the plane when he saw red lights at the runway's end and after the jet rolled into an overrun area and knocked over runway lights, the report said.

No one was injured when the plane, traveling from London's Heathrow Airport, landed on Dec. 26.

British Airways initially blamed the landing on poor lighting or construction at the airport. Airline spokesman John Lampl told The Associated Press on Thursday that he had not seen a copy of the NTSB report.

"There was something going on at the end of the runway, somehow the lights were confusing or something," Lampl said. "The pilot simply missed his turning point, but he stopped on the runway. There was no emergency."

But airport spokesman Marc Henderson said: "Everything was working, and there was no construction at all."

Blair and his family were traveling to Miami Beach to stay with Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees, said Gibb's co-manager John Campbell. There were 343 passengers on the plane, federal officials said.

NTSB spokesman Paul Schlamm said a final determination will be released in about six months, reports AP.

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