Warning over pilots’ lack of flying after ‘serious incident’ at airport

There was 67 passengers and six crew members on board the plane.

Warning over pilots’ lack of flying after ‘serious incident’ at airport iStock

The rapid descent of a Tui Airways plane could be linked to its pilots being grounded for long periods during the coronavirus pandemic, investigators said.

It was revealed that the pilots of the plane, that significantly deviated from its flight path and started descending 3000ft a minute, had not flown in over a year.

The ‘serious’ incident took place at Aberdeen Airport on September 11 when a Boeing 737-800 with 67 passengers and six crew members on board deviated ‘significantly’ during a go-around.

No link was established between the incident and the fact neither of the pilots had ‘flown for significant periods’ for around 18 months before, however the report found that it was “clearly a possibility”.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch has now issued a warning to raise awareness of the event and to highlight that go-arounds can “provoke errors” if not “practiced frequently”.

In a statement released on Thursday the AAIB said: “The pilots, like many other pilots, had not flown for significant periods during the 18 months before this incident.

“Although the investigation has not established a link between this incident and a lack of recent line flying, it is clearly a possibility.

“Therefore, this Special Bulletin is published to raise awareness of this event and to highlight that go‑arounds from intermediate altitudes on an approach can provoke errors because they are not practiced frequently.

“The aircraft deviated significantly from the expected flight path, initially climbing, but just before it reached the cleared altitude began to descend.

“It descended with a maximum rate of descent of more than 3000 ft/min, and it accelerated to an airspeed of 286kt (the selected airspeed was 200kt) before the crew corrected the flightpath.

“The subsequent approach and landing were completed without further incident.”

The full report into the incident can be read here.