Pilot error saw plane make 'unsafe' takeoff amid snow and ice

The Boeing 737 took off from Aberdeen Airport bound for East Midlands in poor conditions last year.

Pilot error saw Aberdeen cargo plane make ‘unsafe’ takeoff amid snow and ice Getty Images

A pilot’s error saw a cargo plane make an “unsafe” takeoff from Aberdeen Airport amid heavy snow and reduced visibility.

The Boeing 737 was bound for East Midlands Airport near Derby on March 6, 2023.

An incorrect flap selection, on the plane’s wings, was made as part of the sequence for taking off.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) investigated the incident and found that a combination of poor weather conditions and time pressure may have influenced the pilot’s performance.

The mistake wasn’t detected before takeoff, and the aircraft departed Aberdeen at around 10.30pm in worsening conditions.

The crew identified the issue when trying to retract the flaps in the normal fashion after takeoff.

Investigators said it is not safe to takeoff without confirming that “flap is set correctly, because the aircraft may not achieve the required performance”.

However, the AAIB report found that in this incident, the takeoff with flap 1 “did not have any effect on the safe conduct of the flight”.

“In other circumstances where the takeoff performance was limited, such as an increased aircraft weight, reduced runway length or less favourable environmental conditions, there may have been a greater risk to the safety of the aircraft,” the report concluded.

AAIB said that the flight operator amended its “Before Takeoff” checklist to include stating the planned and indicated flap settings out loud.

The operator also issued a notice to flying staff to highlight the potential risk of flap mis-selections.

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