News, Culture & Society

FlyBe flight declared mayday after pilots forgot to turn on air conditioning and cabin depressurised

FlyBe flight to Edinburgh declared a mayday after a chaotic turnaround at Belfast meant the air conditioning was switched off and cabin depressurised

  • Pilots decided to reset air conditioning due to heat issues on previous flight 
  • They were interrupted when staff told them there wasn’t enough drinking water
  • After resolving the issue, they were keen for the plane to depart on time 
  • In the chaos they forgot to complete the reset, leaving air conditioning off 

A FlyBe flight declared an emergency at 10,000 ft as the cabin depressurised due to staff leaving the air conditioning switched off.

Cabin crew sounded the mayday alarm following the blunder, which an investigation found was partly due to staff having a significantly higher workload than usual.

The DHC-8-402 Dash 8 was heading from Belfast to Edinburgh when workers realised that it had not pressurised properly.

It followed a chaotic turnaround, during which the pilots was alerted to a lack of drinking water on the aircraft.

The flight declared an emergency after its pilots forgot to turn on the air conditioning after it left Belfast (pictured: a stock image of a DHC-8-402 Dash 8)

The setback interrupted them while they were resetting the air conditioning system after heating issues left passengers uncomfortable on the previous flight.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) found that they never completed the reset after resolving the water problem before take-off.

Because the pilots did not record the temperature control problems in their paper log, cabin crew were unaware of what they had been doing to the air conditioning.

The depressurisation triggered the warning signal, at which point cabin crew realised that the central air system had been switched off.  

A report on the incident said that both pilots were worried about taking off late after rushing to find water for the plane.

It said that their mistake was caused by their workload being ‘significantly above the norm’.

When cabin crew realised that the mayday had sounded due to the air conditioning being switched off, they turned it on and the plane stabilised

When cabin crew realised that the mayday had sounded due to the air conditioning being switched off, they turned it on and the plane stabilised 

Once the crew realised that the air conditioning was off, they turned it on and the plane stabilised near Glasgow on September 21 last year.   

AAIB said in its report: ‘The effectiveness of the crew’s actions was reduced by the high workload resulting from operational factors and by their attempts to deal with the symptoms of a technical issue with the aircraft, which had not been communicated to them.’

A Flybe spokeswoman said: ‘We thank the AAIB for concluding its investigation and report on the incident which took place on September 21, 2018.

‘Flybe can confirm that a number of actions have since been incorporated into our systems and procedures to ensure that the chances of such an event reoccurring are significantly minimised.’

The commercial flight had four crew members and 70 passengers on board.