A RYANAIR Boeing 737 landed at El Altet without permission during the air controllers’ strike.
The aircraft with 168 passengers and six crew took off from East Midlands in the UK on January 6, 2011 and landed safely at Alicante.
The aircrew later claimed to be unaware that that they had landed irregularly, according to the Ministry of Public Works web page at the time of the incident.
Now further details have emerged following an investigation by Spain’s Civil Aviation Accidents and Incidents Committee (CIAIAC).
The Boeing was landed by a 22-year-old German co-pilot with 2,300 hours’ flying experience, 2,050 of them in Boeings.
The 47-year-old British pilot had 14,335 hours of flying experience and 6,326 hours in Boeings.
They “simply forgot” to contact the control tower both explained afterwards. They only realised that something was amiss when they saw that the landing lights were not on, the last step in pre-landing procedures.
The military air controllers, in charge of the El Altet control tower owing to the strike, tried unsuccessfully to contact the Ryanair plane.
The pilots had turned down the volume on the cockpit radio as usual to avoid unnecessary distractions, they told the CIAIAC enquiry.
The official investigation criticised both Ryanair and the military controllers for breaching airport security.
The last word goes to the Manises control tower in Valencia, which the pilots earlier contacted for a weather report.
“Has the Ryanair landed yet? And without permission?” the Valencian controllers asked. “They’ve got balls!”