Digging In: Air Accident Investigation Reports

by Chris Hawkins @

As usual, I've managed to spend the best part of the day watching Youtube and browsing the internet with no real purpose (which in itself is why the internet exists schurely?). While doing so, I started reading through Air Accident Investigation Reports. Along with confirming that I really do have no life, this has thrown up some interesting incidents. Here's an abbreviated version of some of the highlights.

Mind the step

G-EZDN Airbus 319 parked

Let's start off innocuously enough, with a simple mistake of slightly misplacing your steps. [source]

During pushback from its stand at Liverpool Airport, the aircraft’s right wing trailing edge struck a set of steps which had been positioned to service another aircraft arriving on the adjacent stand.

There's plenty of runway left yet

G-EZDN Airbus 319 taking off

I think I can assume the following excerpt isn't something anyone would like to think could be said of any flight they'd been on in their life. Oh and just to really rub it in, this was the exact same aircraft to which the last incident occured too! [source]

...The takeoff run appeared normal to the pilots until the point they realised the aircraft was rapidly approaching works on the runway

If you'd all like to make your way to the rear of the aircraft

G-VSHY Airbus 340-600 taxiing

When you board a plane you probably never really think about how the weight is distributed, but it is calculated beforehand, usually in a way that allows for passenger weight variations. It's maths though, so someone is bound to get it wrong at some point, as is the case in point with this Virgin. [source]

The aircraft departed with the CG (Centre of Gravity) forward of the operator’s allowable limits. The error was detected whilst the aircraft was still airborne. The aircraft crew was contacted and some passengers moved to bring the CG back to within limits

Ooo-err Missus!

G-DBCI Airbus 319 taxiing

And finally, my favourite one of the bunch. The AAIB report writer in charge of this final report had an absolute stormer of a performance. So, to recap: [source]

During the latter stages of the takeoff roll the aircraft yawed rapidly to the right and took off over the side of the runway on a heading that was 18° to the right of the runway centreline.

The above says basically, that the airplane rapidly veered off to the right. You might be asking yourself, is this normal? To which the answer is definitely: no. So, why might this have happened?

Recorded data showed that the rapid yaw during the ground roll had been caused by a deflection of the rudder. The evidence indicated that there had been no malfunction of the aircraft...

Okay then, the rudder on the tail of the plane moved, causing the veering. But we can't find out why. Oh no, what a to-do!

So, cutting out a lot of pre-amble, science and psychology, we come to the reports conclusion:

However, it was considered that distraction and under-arousal of the flight crew in benign conditions were possible factors.

Yup, this is where the writer really came into his own. He could have mentioned fatigue or attention more specifically, but no, he went right in with the real kicker, under-arousal. Buy that man a pint.

Oh and for those wondering where this event took place, but where else? Amsterdam. Some punchlines just write themselves.