A Flybe flight crashed 500 feet in 18 seconds after an incorrect autopilot setting had caused it to hit the ground. This resulted in an investigation.
Forty-four passengers and four crew members boarded the flight from Belfast City Airport to Glasgow Airport when the incident took place shortly after take-off on January 11th.
According to a report from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), the autopilot was activated when the Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 turboprop reached a height of 1350 feet.
The aircraft continued to climb 1,500 feet (1,500 feet), but "crashed down and then crashed rapidly" because the autopilot was inadvertently set at a target altitude of zero feet. The cockpit arm warned the captain and the first officer of the event.
They later reported that they had "made the ground visible". The captain stopped the autopilot and restored the plane after it had dropped to 928 feet.
The maximum descent rate of 4,300 feet per minute during the event indicates that the aircraft might have touched the ground a few seconds later if the crew had not intervened. They continued the flight to Glasgow and landed without incident.
The AAIB concluded that selecting a particular autopilot mode before starting the crew led to the goal of zero altitude. Autopilot systems are used to automatically control aircraft. Flybe has taken several security measures in response to the incident, including changes to simulator training and changes to pilots' checklists.
A spokeswoman for the airline said, "Flybe takes a rigorous approach to ensure that the highest flight standards are met.
"According to the AAIB, Flybe responded to the incident quickly with remedial action, and our training and procedures were changed to minimize the risk of recurrence."
"Flybe conducts more than 158,000 flights annually and the safety of our passengers and crew remains our top priority."
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