Pilot Loses Grip During Flare

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It was an incident, not an accident, and it has wrongly been reported as a pilot's prosthetic arm falling off. The reality? The pilot of a Flybe airline DeHaviland Dash 8 was flaring to land at Belfast City Airport, Ireland, when the device he used to clip his prosthetic lower left arm to the control yoke came unclamped. According to a report released this week by Britain's Air Accident Investigation Branch, the pilot then took his right hand off of the power levers—power was being carried due to the gusty conditions—and continued the flare with his right hand. However, due to either the interruption or a gust, the aircraft experienced a heavy landing. There were no injuries, but the heavy landing triggered an investigation.

According to the report, once the clamp released, the captain "made a rapid assessment of the situation and considered alerting the co-pilot and instructing him to take control." However, it continued, "Because the co-pilot would not have time to take stock of what was happening, he decided the best option was to continue one-handed." Flybe, a UK-based low cost airline, said it had carried out its own investigation and had put into place additional safety measures. "Flybe is proud to be an equal opportunities employer," it said in a statement. "This, in common with most airlines, means we do employ staff with reduced physical abilities. Where appropriate, and in accordance with UK Civil Aviation Authority requirements, this does include pilots." It said the pilot was a senior captain and one of its "most experienced and trusted" pilots. Pilots have been safely flying with prosthetic limbs for more than 80 years—the most famous of whom was Douglas Bader, a Royal Air Force World War II fighter pilot who had lost both legs before the war, had prosthetic legs fitted and became an ace in combat against the Luftwaffe.