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Pilot artificial arm detaches during landing: Plane comes down hard with bounce

Pilot's artificial arm falls off during landing and the plane bounces off runway, but no one is injured.
Pilot's artificial arm falls off during landing and the plane bounces off runway, but no one is injured.
Robo-Cop 2014

When a pilot’s artificial arm detached while he was attempting to land the plane, the passengers and crew on the Flybe flight from Birmingham were in for a bumpy landing. The plane came down on the runway with a bounce and then it momentarily became airborne again, until it came down with a thud for its final touchdown on the runway, according to MSN News on Aug 14.

The pilot's loss of the passenger plane's controls was only momentary when his prosthetic left arm became detached from the yoke clamp, which held the artificial limb in place. The plane was on approach to Belfast City Airport carrying 47 passengers when the pilot’s left limb was no longer controlling the plane.

The Washington Post reports that the pilot needed to make a split second decision to do one of two things. He could have had the co-pilot take over, or he could quickly maneuver his artificial limb using his right arm.

He concluded that the best thing to do was to move his right hand to the yoke to regain control. When he did this the landing wasn’t perfect and even though the plane’s final touchdown came with a hard thud on the runway, no one was hurt and there was no damage to the plane.

The report describes the plane as “landing heavily,” it also mentioned that the wind gusts could have been a factor in the hard landing. The pilot became pro-active by creating his own solution to guard against this possibility ever happening again.

He will check to make sure his prosthesis is securely attached to the yoke before each flight. He will also discuss this episode with his co-pilots in the future to make them aware they would need to take over the controls on the outside chance there is ever a similar event.

The report for this incident was just released, but the incident occurred in February. The landing took place in “gusty conditions,” which might have added to this hard landing.

The pilot is one of the most experienced with Flybe and one of the most trusted pilots, said a company spokesperson. Captain Ian Baston, who is the director of flight operations and safety, explained that the company employs staff, including pilots, with “reduced physical abilities.”

When the company does this, it is done within the criteria laid out by the Civil Aviation Authority. The airline would never compromise safety. This hiring practice is something most would find commendable.

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