Fri, Sep 29, 2006
Pilots Recovered Safely After Uncommanded Descent
A Boeing 747 plunged nearly 3000
feet over London earlier this year... and investigators are still
The Associated Press reports the plane descended as low as 1,200
feet before the crew disconnected automatic systems, and hand-flew
to a safe landing a London Heathrow. Heathrow was reporting a
1,500-foot ceiling at the time.
The El Al flight, with 450 passengers aboard, was on a coupled
ILS approach to Heathrow at 4000 feet when the aircraft began an
uncommanded descent. Investigators say the glide slope system --
that's the part of the ILS that provides altitude guidance to the
pilot or the autopilot --directed the plane to descend, and they
don't know why.
Investigators noted the crew recovered the aircraft and flew
back to the proper glide slope manually before making a safe
landing. No other aircraft flying into Heathrow that day reported
autopilot or glideslope problems... and no theory has yet been
forwarded to explain the El Al 747's bizzare behavior.
An El Al spokeswoman says at no time were the passengers in
danger. She says the aircraft's Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning
System (EGPWS) would have warned the pilots before the aircraft
became dangerously low.
The crew noted the malfunction in the 747's log... but didn't
submit an incident report with authorities after landing at
Heathrow. There is no indication UK's Department for Transport will
investigate further on this on... for now, it remains in the
unsolved mysteries catagory.
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