Pilot used rain to clean off window in emergency
Aer Lingus 'good airmanship'
Published 01/05/2015 | 02:30
A quick-thinking Aer Lingus Regional pilot and co-pilot saved their plane and 46 passengers by flying into a rain shower to clear sea salt which had completely caked their aircraft windscreen.
The revelation came as an Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) report praised "the good airmanship" of the crew of the ATR-72 flight from Manchester to Cork whose skill averted a potential accident at 10.50pm on January 2 2014.
The AAIU described it as "a serious incident".
The build-up of sea salt on the windscreen, caused by stormy conditions during their flight over the Irish Sea, is one of the rarest challenges faced by pilots.
In the case of the seven-year old ATR turbo-prop attempting to land at Cork Airport, the 40-year-old female pilot and her co-pilot were shocked to realise a thick layer of white sea salt had caked over their windscreen as they were attempting to land.
The condition of the windscreen was only apparent to the pilots, whose entire flight was conducted in darkness, when they had to abort their first attempted landing at Cork due amid stormy conditions.
"Its track brought it south of (Cork), close to the coast and at times over the sea. During this time, a thick layer of sea salt formed on the front windscreens, obscuring the flight crew's forward visibility."
"As it was not possible to acquire the necessary visual references for landing, a second go-around was flown."
The AAIU report found that such a salt build-up can occur in specific weather conditions.
The quick-thinking pilot and co-pilot flew into an area of heavy shower activity - and used the rain in an attempt to wash clear the windscreen.
"A small portion of the commander's windscreen was cleared. A third approach was flown to a successful landing," the AAIU report added.