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Pilot averts disaster after false arm fell off as he landed plane

The incident happened after his prosthetic limb became detached on a flight in February.

Image: plane via shutterstock

A PILOT ON a Belfast bound flight from Birmingham lost control of the aircraft after his prosthetic arm became detached.

The incident, which occurred on a Flybe flight on 12 February this year, saw the 46-year-old captain of the flight improvising under challenging conditions to ensure the plane was brought down in a safe landing.

Details of the incident were revealed today in a new report from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch.

As the plane was approaching Belfast City airport in gusty conditions, the yoke clamp used by the pilot to fly the aircraft came disconnected from his arm. This caused the pilot to lose control of the aircraft.

Prior to the prosthetic limb becoming detached, the pilot had switched the controls of the plane from autopilot over to manual. At the moment the limb because detached, the captain instructed his co-pilot to take control of the aircraft.

However, it was quickly thought that the co-pilot would not have enough time to assimilate the information required to take over.

To deal with the situation, the captain moved his right arm across from the power levers onto the yoke clamp to regain control of the aircraft. With power still applied, the aircraft landed heavily, performing a touchdown followed by a bounce.

The plane was carrying four crew members and 47 passengers. The commander had over 8,000 hours of flight time.

On the incident, Flybe issued a statement saying:

Flybe is 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 Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) requirements, this does include pilots.

“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.”

The commander of the aircraft has committed to checking his prosthesis more carefully in the future. He also said that in future he would brief his co-pilots about the possibility of a similar event.

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