A Flybe pilot lost control of an aircraft after his artificial arm became detached as he was coming in to land, according to an accident report.
The flight from Birmingham, with 47 passengers on board, was approaching Belfast City airport in gutsy conditions on February 12.
It landed heavily but no-one was hurt and the Dash 8 was not damaged.
The pilot said he would be more cautious in future about checking his attachment, according to the Air Accidents Investigation Branch report.
Flybe said the senior captain was one of its “most experienced and trusted pilots”, and the safety of passengers and crew had not been compromised in any way.
Shortly before beginning to land the aircraft, the 46-year-old had checked that his prosthetic lower left arm was securely attached to the clamp that he used to fly the aircraft, with the latching device in place, the BBC reported.
The AAIB report said the captain had disconnected the autopilot and was manually flying the aircraft.
However, as he made the flare manoeuvre – a stage of the landing shortly before touchdown – “his prosthetic limb became detached from the yoke clamp, depriving him of control of the aircraft”.
While he had thought about getting his co-pilot to take control, the time available and the challenging conditions meant his best course of action was to move his right hand from the power levers on to the yoke to regain control.
“He did this, but with power still applied and possibly a gust affecting the aircraft, a normal touchdown was followed by a bounce, from which the aircraft landed heavily,” the report found.
The AAIB reported that the captain had said that in future he would be more cautious about checking the attachment on his prosthesis as he may have dislodged the latching mechanism.
He also said he would brief his co-pilots about the possibility of a similar event and that they should be ready to take control at any time.
Flybe’s director of flight operations and safety Captain Ian Baston said the airline was an equal opportunities employer and “in common with most airlines, means we do employ staff with reduced physical abilities”.
“Where appropriate, and in accordance with Civil Aviation Authority requirements, this does include pilots,” he added.
“The senior captain referred to in this report is one of Flybe’s most experienced and trusted pilots. The airline confirms that at no time was the safety of its passengers or crew compromised in any way, nor was the aircraft damaged.
“Following the incident, Flybe immediately undertook a detailed internal investigation from which it determined a series of additional fail-safe safety checks. These were rigorously tested and instigated immediately to ensure that this type of incident could not happen again.
“The safety of our passengers and crew is our number one priority. This means that Flybe not only adheres to the CAA’s strict requirements relating to the employment of staff with a reduced physical ability, but exceeds them to ensure that safety is never compromised.
“Flybe understands that the AAIB is to review this report to more clearly contextualise certain issues referred to in its findings.”
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