Technical failure, pilot error caused Amsterdam plane crash

March 5th, 2009 - 2:07 pm ICT by IANS  

The Hague, March 5 (RIA Novosti) Preliminary investigations have shown that a faulty altimeter combined with pilot error were responsible for the crash of a Turkish airliner in Amsterdam last month, Dutch investigators have said.
According to Dutch Safety Board chairman Pieter van Vollenhoven, the Turkish plane with 128 passengers and seven crewmembers on board, which crashed at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport Feb 25, had a faulty altimeter that had been noticed 24 hours before the flight left from Istanbul.

Nine people were killed, including both pilots and one other crewmember, and another 86 injured when the plane crashed into a ploughed field just short of the runway. There are still 28 people in hospital with injuries, one of whom is in a serious condition.

Van Vollenhoven said the airliner was equipped with two altimeters, of which the left was displaying an incorrect altitude figure. However, the right altimeter showed the correct altitude. The landing was being conducted on auto-pilot, so the engines of the aircraft reduced their speed too early because of the incorrect information coming from the two altimeters.

He also cited a number of pilot errors. Although the aircraft was landing on auto-pilot, it took the commander some 100 seconds to realise that he was coming in too low and too far from the runway.

The second pilot, who was controlling the aircraft at the time, was making his first landing in a Boeing 737-800. The commander took control of the plane too late, and crash-landed the aircraft in a field at 175 km an hour.

Van Vollenhoven also said that the initial angle of the plane’s descent was incorrect, making a sharp drop from 2,000 feet, and that its decrease in speed was too abrupt.

Investigators into the crash have said that there are no signs of a fuel shortage on board the aircraft, which was initially suspected as a cause. Other factors such as hitting birds, ice, turbulence, and engine or systems failures, have also been ruled out.

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