A report found that the rapid descent of a Tui Airways aircraft on approach to Aberdeen Airport was caused by its pilots being forced to stay grounded during the coronavirus epidemic.
Sixty seven passengers and six crew were present on the aircraft when it encountered a “serious accident” on its approach to Aberdeen Airport.
The pilot instructed the aircraft to climb up to 3,300ft, but it plummeted quickly back to 1,780. A report suggests that this may be due to pilots not flying while locked down.
The Tui flight was involved with a serious incident that resulted in the deaths of six passengers (stock image).
The aircraft was to ascend to 3,300ft, but it plummeted quickly to 1,780 upon approach to the airport.
Air Accidents Investigation Branch(AAIB), stated that the pilots were told by ATC (air traffic control) to abandon the landing. A search-and rescue helicopter was nearby.
The Boeing 737 climbed to the requested altitude at 3,000ft, but then deviated from its expected flight path by descending to 1,780 ft in a time more than 40 percent faster than that chosen by pilots.
The AAIB stated that this resulted in an increase of speed and a high rate of descent.
The crew took just 57 seconds to correct the flightpath and increase altitude, before landing the plane safely after the flight from Majorca.
Although an investigation is ongoing into the circumstances of this incident, the initial report indicated that pilots had been experiencing’significant periods without flying for the past 18 months.
This was the fourth flight for the first officer in close to 11 months. The captain had flied 10 times during the month before.
Coronavirus has caused a severe decline in air travel.
According to the report, both pilots completed simulator flights during the virus crisis. However, it was noted that the simulation environment can make it difficult for the crew to reproduce moments with high workload.
The regulators were concerned that after long periods of inactivity, pilots could return to flight and perform below normal during the first few flights.
“Although there has been no evidence linking this event to a shortage of line flying, the bulletin is being published because it is possible.