The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) of the United Kingdom has issued its report on the hard landing of Flybe‘s (Exeter) Bombardier DHC-8-402 (Q400) G-JECJ (man 4110) on February 12, 2014 at Belfast City Airport, Northern Ireland with 47 passengers and four crew members:
During the landing flare, in gusty conditions, the commander’s prosthetic arm became detached, control was lost, and a heavy landing resulted.
History of the flight
The aircraft was on a scheduled commercial air transport flight from Birmingham to Belfast City, with the commander, in the left flight deck seat, as pilot flying. It was night, and although there was no low cloud affecting the airport, the wind at Belfast was a strong west-south-westerly, gusting up to 48 kt. Before the approach, the commander checked that his prosthetic lower left arm was securely attached to the yoke clamp which he used to fly the aircraft, with the latching device in place.
Although gusts over the crosswind limit for the aircraft were reported, the final wind report from ATC was within the limit, and the approach continued. The commander disconnected the autopilot and flew the aircraft manually. As he made the flare manoeuvre, with somewhat more than flight idle torque still applied, his prosthetic limb became detached from the yoke clamp, depriving him of control of the aircraft. He made a rapid assessment of the situation and considered alerting the co-pilot and instructing him to take control. However, because the co-pilot would have had little time to assimilate the information necessary to take over in the challenging conditions, the commander concluded that his best course of action was to move his right hand from the power levers onto 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.
The commander commented that he would in future be more cautious about checking the attachment on his prosthesis, as his check may have dislodged the latching mechanism; that he would brief his co-pilots about the possibility of a similar event; and that they should be ready to take control at any time.
Copyright Photo: Antony J. Best/AirlinersGallery.com. Bombardier DHC-8-402 (Q400) G-JECJ (msn 4110) lands at Southampton.