Monday, 10 December, 2018

Flybe plane plunges 500ft in 18 seconds after autopilot error

Bombardier Dash Q400 aircraft. A Flybe flight plummeted 500ft in 18 seconds after an incorrect autopilot setting caused it to aim for the ground an investigation has The plane pitched so quickly that pilots could see the ground
Priscilla Morrison | 11 November, 2018, 00:55

It continued to climb to 1,500ft (457m), but "pitched nose-down and then descended rapidly" when the autopilot was set with a target altitude of zero feet by accident.

The Flybe flight out of Belfast fell more than 500 feet in 18 seconds.

In the United Kingdom the pilot of a Flybe airline flight made a mistake with the settings of the autopilot, and this has led to a sharp decrease of the aircraft, noted in a released on 8 November the official investigation report of the incident, which happened on January 11.

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

The Commander swiftly disconnected the autopilot and regained control of the aircraft.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said after an inquiry that the system on the Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 turboprop plane was switched on at 1,350ft.

At this point, an incorrect autopilot altitude setting - which gave a target altitude of zero feet - meant it "pitched nose-down and then descended rapidly", investigators said.

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The flight continued to its Scotland destination and landed safely. Its descent reached a maximum speed of 4,300 feet per minute.

The investigation revealed the choice of a certain autopilot setting before take-off made it target zero feet.

Flight crew say they "became visual with the ground" as the plane plummeted when autopilot was switched on. No one was injured.

A statement from Flybe said the airline "maintains a rigorous approach to ensuring the very highest flying standards are maintained", according to BBC.

"As reported by the AAIB, Flybe implemented remedial actions quickly in response to the incident and our training and procedures have been amended to minimise the risk of a reoccurrence".

'Flybe operates over 158,000 flights a year and the safety of our passengers and crew remains our number one priority'.

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.

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