A Ryanair plane en route to France was reported to be just “seconds away” from crashing to the ground with around 172 passengers on board, according to an investigation carried out by French aviation regulator BEA.
THE investigation into the January 2015 incident carried out by BEA revealed that pilots lost “situational awareness”. According to the investigation report, the flight from London Stansted was approaching Bergerac Airport in poor weather conditions when the incident occurred. The Boeing 737 “flew too low for more than two minutes” as it made a turn in the clouds on autopilot just eight miles from the runway. A “terrain warning” was given to alert the pilots they were flying too low and an automated safety system instructed them to “PULL UP” the investigation revealed. The 57-year-old captain and 27-year-old trainee co-pilot, “pulled up” as instructed just before landing safely a few minutes later.
However, the Boeing 737 was just seconds away from the disaster, as the plane would have touched down in 40 seconds if it had continued to descend 900 feet per minute, revealed the investigation. According to the report, the crew “chose to use an automated system to control the descent of their aircraft” but the “co-pilot was on a non-precision approach”, which allows the pilots “to follow a predetermined route to a minimum altitude”. However, “pilots are not allowed to descend below this minimum altitude unless they can see the runway”, the report pointed out. The “co-pilot did not know this” as he had only clocked up “400 hours of experience”, and “the captain was unaware of this”, the investigation concluded.