Sunday, 18 November, 2018

Belfast flight was literally programmed to plunge into ground

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Rhonda Young | 11 November, 2018, 00:57

The mistake with the autopilot was not caught during preflight checks.

After the aircraft climbed to a height of about 1,900 feet, the pilot re-engaged the autopilot, but disconnected it again when the plane started to pitch down.

Up to 44 people were on board the flight from Belfast City Airport to Glasgow with an incorrect setting having been blamed for the plane plummeting toward the ground according to the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB).

The report said that autopilot was engaged when the Bombardier Dash-8 Q400 turboprop plane reached an altitude of 1,350 ft.

The autopilot had been set with a target altitude of zero feet.

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According to the report, the aircraft was put on autopilot mode shortly after taking off from the airport, once it reached an altitude of 1,350 feet.

Despite the incident, the flight continued on to Glasgow without any further incident.

A last-minute change in the plane's payload left the crew with less time to carry out preflight checks and they missed the problem with the autopilot setting, the report said.

An inquest heard from terrified flight crew who said that they "became visual with the ground" as the plane dropped in the air. No one was injured.

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Flybe, an independent airline based out of Exeter, England, said in a statement, "Flybe maintains a rigorous approach to ensuring the very highest flying standards are maintained".

"Flybe implemented remedial actions quickly in response to the incident and our training and procedures have been amended to minimise the risk of a recurrence".

Flybe, the aircraft's operator, has since adopted several safety measures in response to the incident including amendments to the pilot's safety checklist before take-offs.

"The safety of our passengers and crew remains our number one priority".

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