Bungling Blue Air pilots put 190 passengers at risk when a mistake over their Boeing 737’s weight saw its tail clip the runway as it took off from Birmingham Airport for Bucharest, report reveals
- Pilots of Blue Air put passengers at risk during take off from Birmingham Airport
- The pilots listed the zero-fuel weight rather than the actual take-off weight
- The tail of the Bucharest-bound plane clipped the runway as it took off
- Instead of consulting a procedural handbook the flight proceeded to Romania
Bungling pilots put 190 passengers at risk after mistakenly reading the wrong take-off calculations – causing the plane’s tail to hit the runway, a report has revealed.
The Boeing 737-800, part of Romanian airline Blue Air, scraped the tarmac as it lifted into the sky during its 150mph take off from Birmingham Airport bound of Bucharest.
The wrong weight was entered into flight computers – making the plane incorrectly appear 12 tonnes lighter than it actually was.
The flight was nearly an hour behind schedule when the pilots listed the zero-fuel weight rather than the actual take-off weight.
Pilots of a flight bound bound for Bucharest put 190 passengers at risk after mistakenly reading the zero-fuel weight rather than the actual take-off weight – making the plane appear 12 tonnes lighter that it actually was
The error meant that the take-off speed calculated was ten knots below what was needed, causing the nose of the plane to pitch up too high.
The Air Accident Investigations Branch said the mistake was made as normal procedures were bypassed ‘in order to save time’.
Air investigators said of the July 2018 incident: ‘It was likely that the incorrect weight was read out, and not crosschecked, as the crew tried to meet [this take-off slot].’
The report, released today, continued: ‘A member of ground operations at Birmingham Airport, who witnessed the takeoff, informed air traffic control that he believed the aircraft may have had a tailstrike, as he saw the tail of the aircraft come very close to the runway.’
Although the pilots did not believe the jet had struck the ground, they eventually discovered the weight error and were also informed by cabin crew of an ‘odd noise’ on take-off.
But despite the findings, the crew opted not to consult their procedural handbook and instead proceeded to Romania.
The error meant that the take-off speed calculated was ten knots below what was needed, causing the nose of the plane to pitch up too high and the tail of the aircraft clipping the tarmac (damage pictured)
The AAIB added: ‘The ‘”ailstrike” checklist is to be completed if one is suspected.
‘The enquiry from air traffic control should have been enough for the pilots to take the prescribed actions.
‘Continuing to destination put the safety of the aircraft and its occupants at an increased risk.’
Inspection of the Boeing after it landed in Bucharest revealed damage to the tail. None of the 190 passengers and six crew members was injured.