Plane skidded off runway after pilot used wrong brake
❝ The pilot ... was unable to maintain directional control ... and the aircraft ran off the left side of the runway onto the grass Official report
APLANE accident which disrupted the Christmas getaway for thousands of people happened because a pilot used the wrong brake, a report has found.
The BMI flight skidded off the runway while landing at Bristol Airport on December 22 2017, coming to a halt after travelling 120 metres along grass.
Control was lost by the pilot as the emergency brake was mistakenly selected, rather than the speed brake, according to the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB).
The AAIB noted that the levers for both brakes are “of similar shape and sited close to each other” in the cockpit of the Embraer 145 aircraft involved in the accident.
It stated that a high workload due to multiple radio interruptions contributed to the mistake going unnoticed.
None of the 22 passengers or three crew on the flight from Frankfurt were injured, but the aircraft’s landing gear was broken and its wheel rims and tyres were damaged.
At least 60 flights were cancelled or diverted while specialist equipment was brought in to remove the plane which had dug in to the grass.
The AAIB’s synopsis of the incident said the flight crew noticed the nose gear touched down ‘sharply’ after the main gear before the pilot lost control.
The report reads: “The pilot flying (PF) was unable to maintain directional control during the landing roll and the aircraft ran off the left side of the runway onto the grass.
“At some point during the landing the throttles were moved forward, reducing the rate of deceleration. As the aircraft left the paved surface the crew realised that the landing had been carried out with the emergency/parking brake set.
“The aircraft may have remained on the runway surface but for the addition of forward thrust during the landing roll.”
The plane had just made an uneventful journey to and from Frankfurt in central Germany before the accident happened in Bristol.
The captain-under-training flew both legs while a company training captain was the commander of the flights.
The report said the pilot had had 17 hours of flight time in the Embraer 145 and his training had progressed well up to that point.
The AAIB concluded the shape and location of the brake levers may have contributed to the incident.
“The accident arose as a result of the inadvertent selection of the emergency/parking brake instead of the speed brake,” the conclusion reads.
“The levers are of similar shape and sited close to each other but with a different appearance and mode of action. There is also a brake on indicator light.
“These risk controls proved ineffective in preventing the inadvertent selection of the emergency/ parking brake both on this occasion and on at least two previous occasions.
“Once the parking brake had been set there were opportunities to detect and correct the error, but a busy flight deck environment together with a high workload con- tributed to it going unnoticed.
“After touchdown, the aircraft may have remained on the runway surface but for the addition of forward thrust during the landing roll. The manufacturer stated that it did not intend to conduct a system review relating to the parking brake status.”
Following the accident, BMI has updated its landing checklist so the pilot makes sure the parking brake is off.
The accident caused severe disruption at Bristol Airport on one of its busiest days of the year just before Christmas. Dozens of flights to and from the airport were cancelled. It was 11.30pm before the plane was towed to a safe location, and the runway reopened.
The plane came to rest on grass alongside the runway at Bristol Airport