Prosthetic Arm of Flybe Pilot Detaches in MidFlight Causes Nightmare Landing at Belfast City Airport
By Vittorio Hernandez | August 15, 2014 9:12 AM EST
This year, 2014, appears to be a difficult one for the international aviation community as two major tragedies happened within four months of each other involving one air carrier, plus there are a number of near misses and other airline incidents that made many people wary of air travel.
The latest freak incident involving yet another jet was the nightmarish landing of a flybe jet on the Belfast City Airport. The bad landing was the result of the detachment of the prosthetic left arm of the 46-year-old pilot in mid-flight.
The arm was supposed to be attached to the plane's yoke to keep the jet level when the auto pilot is switched off, but it suddenly loosened from as clamp on the controls when the pilot attempted an important maneouvre before the touchdown. The incident made the pilot lose control of the aircraft.
After a rapid assessment, the pilot decided to instruct the co-pilot to take control, according to a report from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch. But "because the co-pilot would have had little time ti assimilate the information necessary to take over in the challenging conditions, the commander concluded his best course of action was to move his right hand from the power lever in the yoke to regain control," the report continued.
The touchdown was followed by a bounce, with the jet landing heavily, rattling the 47 passengers of the plane from Birmingham who were unaware at the turn of events inside the cockpit. The co-pilot took over and reduced the speed until the jet came to a stop.
The report said the veteran pilot was not disciplined for the incident, but he promised to exercise more caution when checking the attachment of his fake arm. His theory is that a previous check dislodged the mechanism. He also said he would brief co-pilots about the recurrence of such an event to make them ready for an emergency landing or to take full control of the plane.
The pilot, who has over 8,000 flying hours experience, joined flybe in 2006. The air carrier prides itself as an equal opportunity employer, which explains why it hired the one-armed aviator.
The incident actually happened on Feb 12, but was reported by British dailies only on Thursday, Aug 14. That was almost one month ahead of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 on its way to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur with 298 people on board.
The flybe Dash 8 aircraft was not damaged and there were no injuries over the incident.
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