One-armed pilot lost control of plane when false limb detached

Aug 14, 2014

Experienced senior pilot managed to land the plane heavily but safely with just one arm


A captain lost control of a passenger plane after his artificial arm suddenly detached as the aircraft was coming in to land at Belfast City airport, an accident report has revealed.

The incident occurred when a Flybe flight from Birmingham with 47 passengers on board was approaching the runway in gusty conditions.

None of the passengers or crew on board sustained injuries and the aircraft was not damaged in the accident, which occurred in February.

As the senior pilot performed the final manoeuvre before touchdown, his prosthetic arm became detached, causing him to lose control of the aircraft.

According to a report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch, the pilot had disconnected the autopilot and was flying the plane manually when the accident happened.

The report revealed that the 46-year old pilot considered handing over control to his co-pilot, but due to the lack of time before touchdown he was forced to land the plane with one arm. The report revealed that as a result, "a normal touchdown was followed by a bounce, from which the aircraft landed heavily."

In a statement, the budget airline said that the senior pilot was one of their "most experienced and trusted pilots".

The pilot assured officials that he would exercise more caution in future by ensuring that his prosthesis was properly attached, the BBC reports.

The airline said it was proud to be an equal-opportunities employer and "in common with most airlines, we do employ staff with reduced physical abilities [and] this does include pilots". They assured customers that "the safety of our passengers and crew is our number one priority."

Flybe's director of flight operations and safety, Captain Ian Baston said that the airline had carried out an internal inquiry following the incident and had implemented a number of additional "fail safe" measures "to ensure that this type of incident could not happen again".

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