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Published on Thursday, August 14, 2014

Pilot lost control of plane when artificial arm became detached

Flybe has instigated a number of extra safety checks after one of its pilots lost control of a passenger plane when his artificial arm became detached.

The incident happened in February on a Flybe flight from Birmingham, with 47 passengers on board, as it was landing at Belfast City Airport in gusty winds.

A report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said the captain was manually flying the aircraft at the time but, as he made the final manoeuvre, 'his prosthetic limb became detached from the yoke clamp, depriving him of control of the aircraft'.

It said although the pilot had thought about getting his co-pilot to take control, he decided that due to time pressures and the challenging conditions, 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," said the report.

The AAIB said in future the captain had said he would be more cautious about checking his prosthetic lower left arm was securely attached to the clamp used to fly the aircraft, with the latching device in place.

He would also properly brief his co-pilots about the possibility of a similar event happening so they can be ready to take control at any time.

In a statement, Flybe said it was proud to be an 'Equal Opportunities Employer'.

"This, in common with most airlines, means we do employ staff with reduced physical abilities. Where appropriate, and in accordance with UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) requirements, this does include pilots," it said.

"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."

It said following the incident, it 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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