LONDON — Air accidents investigators probing the heavy landing of a FlyBe turboprop airliner have found that the pilot’s prosthetic arm became detached from the controls as the aircraft flared to land.
The one-armed captain was flying the aircraft from Birmingham to Belfast City Airport, Northern Ireland on February 12, the U.K. Air Accident Investigation Branch reported on August 14.
While sky conditions were clear at Belfast City, there was a gusting 48 kt. west-southwesterly crosswind.
According to the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), before the aircraft began its approach, the captain checked that his prosthetic lower left arm was “securely attached to the yoke clamp” which he used to fly the aircraft. The yoke clamp utilizes a latching device to lock the prosthetic arm into place.
Although wind gusts over the crosswind limits for the aircraft were reported, the final wind report from air traffic control was within limits, and the approach continued.
The captain disengaged the autopilot and flew the aircraft manually. As the captain made the flare maneuver, the prosthetic limb become detached from the yoke clamp “depriving him of control of the aircraft,” the report states.
“He made a rapid assessment of the situation and considered alerting the co-pilot and instructing him to take control,” investigators said.
However, the captain decided that his co-pilot would have too little time to decide on the necessary course of action and take over. As a result, the commander concluded that his best course of action was to move his right hand from the throttles 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 report says.
According to the AAIB, the Captain said that he would be more cautious about checking the mechanism on the prosthesis, as his check “may have dislodged the latching mechanism.”
He would also brief his co-pilots about the potential of similar issues in the future and that they should be ready to take control at any time, the report adds.