Flight terror: Aer Arann plane in 1km drama at Shannon
Published 23/08/2011 | 15:05
A passenger flight veered out of control for more than a kilometre during landing at one of Ireland's busiest airports last month, air accident investigators have found.
There were 21 passengers and four crew on the Aer Arann Manchester to Shannon service when its nose wheel collapsed, controls jammed and it left the runway on July 17.
An initial report by the Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) into the incident found the plane scraped along the ground at Shannon for 1,200 metres before finally coming to a halt on a grass verge.
"The flight crew had no directional control of the aircraft from the initial runway impact to the final stopping point, as the nose wheel steering was inoperative due to the collapsed nose wheel and the rudder was jammed in the mid position," investigators said.
Smoke or steam could be seen billowing from the front of the 17-year-old aircraft, operating as flight EI3601, as it skidded over the ground.
Its left propeller crashed through and demolished a sign on the runway - damaging one of the propeller blades - as it careered off the runway, it was found.
The investigators discovered the flight crew were unable to shut down the engines during the ordeal by normal use of levers, which failed to work, and instead were forced into pulling emergency fire handles to cut off power.
Initial inquiries found the aircraft's landing wheel had been forced in the wrong direction back into the fuselage on the second attempt at landing, causing significant damage to the underneath of the cockpit.
This in turn caused problems with controls inside the plane. The right nose wheel also came off during the incident.
The investigation found there were turbulent conditions at the time of landing, which are expected to be a significant focus of the continuing inquiries.
Different flight crew, on the same aircraft the previous evening, reported difficult conditions during approach to the Shannon Airport runway on two separate flights.
In both cases the wind strength, gusts and direction were very similar to those at the time of the accident.
The AAIU said flight crew initially decided not to perform an emergency evacuation as they had not detected any evidence of fire or smoke.
But cabin crew later started an evacuation after detecting a smell of burning.
Both Aer Arann and Shannon Airport issued statements at the time saying no injuries had been reported.