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Inexperienced pilots major factor in Shannon plane crash

An air accident investigation highlighted a lack of understanding among pilots of aircraft controls in severe weather conditions.

Shannon Airport
Shannon Airport
Image: Mike Reeder via Flickr/Creative Commons

INEXPERIENCED PILOTS AND strong winds were possible factors that led to a crash in Shannon Airport, according to an air accident report.

All 21 passengers and crew on board the Sunday morning Aer Arann flight from Manchester escaped uninjured but the plane was damaged beyond repair.

On 17 July, the commercial plane approached the airport in “blustery weather conditions that featured strong and turbulent crosswind”, according to the Department of Transport’s Air Accident Investigation Unit.

As the plane made its first attempted landing during turbulent conditions the aircraft bounced on the runway and was forced to return to the air.

During the second approach, the ATR 72 aircraft hit the ground nose down and skidded along the runway before coming to a stop.

The passenger plane was operated by Aer Arann on behalf of Aer Lingus.

The report highlighted a number of concerns regarding the experience of the crew and their understanding of the plane’s controls in severe weather conditions.

The AAIU said the “newly promoted” 29-year-old female commander, who was two months in her position,  was relatively inexperienced in handling an aircraft in “limiting conditions”.

Although this was the first go-around during line operations by the recently promoted commander, command training and previous experience should have adequately equipped her to recognise and appraise the prevailing conditions relative to her experience.
The investigation believes that the severity of the prevailing conditions was not recognised by either of the flight crew, either before or after the go-around.

The report also found there was inadequate guidance provided by the aircraft manufacturer on handling techniques in blustery crosswind conditions.

Aer Arran experienced similar landing difficulties with two other aircraft in the same fleet as the plane damaged in the crash.

The investigation found there was a “misconception” among Aer Arann pilots regarding land procedures and power handling for ATR aircraft.

The airline accepted the findings and recommendations made in the report.

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