Monday 24 July 2017

Gerry Byrne: Cork crash has chilling echoes of Polish tragedy

Gerry Byrne

Yesterday's fatal crash of the Manx2 has chilling parallels with the crash of a Polish Air Force passenger jet carrying the Polish president Lech Kaczynski and 95 other senior Polish officials and relatives at Smolensk last year.

Both occurred in heavy fog. In the Smolensk crash the pilot felt under pressure to land, even though air traffic controllers advised against it.

Fog is a capricious element and, while one moment an approach looks clear, in seconds it can swirl in and obstruct the runway. Flying through fog is also extremely disorienting and can give rise to a condition known as vestibular disorientation, where the pilot's natural balance convinces him the aircraft is flying straight and level when the opposite is the case.

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