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Serious incident: DHC-8-400 heavy landing when captain’s prosthetic arm detached during flare
14 August 2014
File photo of the incident aircraft DHC-8-400 G-JECJ (photo: Ardfern / CC:by-sa)

File photo of the incident aircraft DHC-8-400 G-JECJ (photo: Ardfern / CC:by-sa)

A Flybe DHC-8-400 passenger plane suffered a heavy landing when the pilot’s artificial arm became detached while landing the plane at Belfast City Airport, according to an investigation report.

On February 12, 2014, the aircraft was on a scheduled flight from Birmingham to Belfast City, U.K. with the captain in the left seat, as pilot flying. There were 47 passengers and four crew members on board.

It was night, and although there was no low cloud affecting the airport, the wind at Belfast was a strong west‑south-westerly, gusting up to 48 kt. Before the approach, the captain checked that his prosthetic lower left arm was securely attached to the yoke clamp which he used to fly the aircraft, with the latching device in place.

Although gusts over the crosswind limit for the aircraft were reported, the final wind report from ATC was within the limit, and the approach continued. The captain disconnected the autopilot and flew the aircraft manually. As he made the flare manoeuvre, with somewhat more than flight idle torque still applied, his prosthetic limb became detached from the yoke clamp, depriving him of control of the aircraft. He made a rapid assessment of the situation and considered alerting the co-pilot and instructing him to take control. However, because the co-pilot would have had little time to assimilate the information necessary to take over in the challenging conditions, the captain concluded that his best course of action was to move his right hand from the power levers onto the yoke to regain control. He did this, but with power still applied, and possibly a gust affecting the aircraft, a normal touchdown was followed by a bounce, from which the aircraft landed heavily.

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