Flybe report: Autopilot error sends aircraft hurtling towards floor


The plane was solely 928 toes (283 meters) from the bottom when the commander managed to place the aircraft again right into a climb, the Air Accidents Investigations Branch report into the January 11 incident mentioned.

The aircraft, which was sure for Glasgow Airport, had reached a top of 1,350 toes earlier than the autopilot kicked in. At this level, an incorrect autopilot altitude setting — which gave a goal altitude of zero toes — meant it “pitched nose-down after which descended quickly,” investigators mentioned.

When the commander, considered one of 4 crew on board, realized what was occurring, he swiftly disconnected the autopilot and regained management of the plane, which was descending at a most of 4,300 toes per minute.

The descent was so steep that the crew “subsequently reported that they’d turn out to be visible with the bottom through the restoration,” the report mentioned.

As soon as again on the right altitude, the Bombardier Sprint eight Q400 plane continued to Glasgow, the place it made an uneventful touchdown. Nobody was injured.

The AAIB concluded that the incident was all the way down to the crew’s choice of a selected autopilot mode earlier than takeoff. The crew failed to identify the inaccurate mode partly as a result of a late change to the plane’s payload left them with decreased time to hold out preflight checks, the report mentioned.

“On account of this occasion the operator has taken a number of security actions together with revisions to simulator coaching and amendments to the taxi guidelines,” the report mentioned.

Flybe, an impartial regional airline primarily based in England, mentioned it “applied remedial actions rapidly in response to the incident” and adjusted procdures and coaching to minimize the danger of an identical incident. The service, which operates over 158,000 flights a yr, mentioned “the security of our passengers and crew stays our primary precedence.”

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