Flights: Flybe plane plunges 500ft in 18 seconds after pilot chose WRONG autopilot setting

flights news flybe incidents plane crash autopilot

Flights: Flybe plane plummets 500ft in 18 seconds after pilot chose WRONG autopilot setting (Image: Getty Images)

A Flybe flight plunged a terrifying 500 feet in just 18 seconds and only narrowly avoided smashing into the ground.

The pilot, 60, selected the wrong autopilot setting after the plane took off resulting in the aircraft plummeting from the sky.

The Bombardier Dash-8 Q400 turboprop plane  “descended rapidly,” an inquiry into the 11 January incident said.

It had 44 passengers and four crew on board as it flew from Belfast City, Northern Ireland to Glasgow, Scotland 

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The pilot engaged autopilot on the plane when it reached an altitude of 1,350 feet. it ascended for a further 150 feet before suddenly plunging towards the ground from 1,500 feet.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) report said the aircraft dropped so fast it reached a maximum rate of descent of 4,300ft/min and “became visual with the ground,” an

The speed of descent suggests the plane may have hit the ground just a few seconds later if crew hadn’t intervened.

The error occurred after the pilot had set to autopilot to a target altitude of zero feet.

He was alerted by cockpit warnings and disconnected the autopilot at 928 feet.

The flight continued without further incident to Glasgow as planned.

flights news flybe incidents plane crash autopilot

Flights: The Flybe plane “descended rapidly” after the pilot selected the wrong autopilot setting (Image: Getty Images)

An AAIB report stated Flybe has taken “several safety actions” since the incident, including revisions to simulator training and amendments to the taxi checklist.

Flybe told “Flybe maintains a rigorous approach to ensuring the very highest flying standards are maintained.

“Flybe implemented remedial actions quickly in response to the incident and our training and procedures have been amended to minimise the risk of a reoccurrence.”

Passengers in such a situation should always adopt the brace position.

One pilot told it’s fully recommended passengers do the brace position to maximise survival should the worst happen.

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flights news flybe incidents plane crash autopilot

Flights: The pilot fixed the mistake at 928 feet after he was alerted by cockpit warnings (Image: Getty Images)

The pilot, who wished to remain anonymous said: “It’s the best position to preserve life.”

The effects of the brace position were proved in a ‘real life’ scenario in a 2012 Channel 4 documentary, The Plane Crash. 

A Boeing 727 carrying cameras, sensors and crash test dummies flew at 140 mph, descending at 1,500 feet per minute, and crashed land nose down in a remote and uninhabited area of Mexican desert.

The incredible footage saw the front of the plane completely ripped off while the middle and back remained intact.

However, of the three dummies, the one wearing a seatbelt and in the brace position, was the one identified by the experts to have “survived” the crash.

Furthermore, when U.S. Airways Flight 1549 crashed into the Hudson River 2009 the pilot and flight attendants instructed all passengers to adopt the brace position.

The absence of fatalities on board is attributed to all passengers doing the position. None of the 155 people on board suffered life-threatening injuries.

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