Friday, April 08, 2016

FlyDubai Crash Could Have Been Pilot Error, Investigators Say: Russian investigators said Flight FZ981 entered a steep dive following deliberate action by the crew

The Wall Street Journal
April 8, 2016 6:05 a.m. ET

LONDON—Russian air accident investigators Friday said that the FlyDubai flight that crashed March 19 at Rostov-on-Don entered a steep dive following crew action, the first formal indication pilot error could have led to the crash.

The Russian Interstate Aviation Committee, which is leading the probe into the crash of Flight FZ981 from Dubai that killed all 62 people onboard, said it had gleaned the information from the Boeing Co. 737-800’s black boxes.

Accident investigators haven't yet drawn formal conclusions on the cause of the crash, which occurred after two aborted landing attempts.

Russian authorities said the crew attempted a first landing in adverse weather conditions with the autopilot turned off. The landing was called off because of wind shear, a sharp changing in wind conditions that can be difficult to handle.

The crew then circled the airport waiting for weather conditions to improve before attempting another landing. The second approach was also flown with the autopilot turned off. When the plane reached around 220 meters (722 feet) in altitude, the crew again called off the attempted landing, initiated a climb and applied takeoff power to the engines.

Russian investigators said that when the aircraft had climbed to 900 meters in altitude, the crew pushed the plane’s nose down sharply, causing the aircraft to descend rapidly. The crew were unable to recover and the plane hit the ground at a speed exceeding 600 kilometers per hour (372 miles an hour).

Russian accident investigators, who are being assisted by an international team that includes representatives from the United Arab Emirates and the U.S., have previously said they had not seen any indication of a technical fault with the Boeing jetliner. The airport equipment used to gauge weather conditions was also functioning properly, investigators said Friday.

Investigators are still trying to reconstruct the full sequence of events. Information from the cockpit voice recorder, one of the two black boxes which stores conversation in the cockpit, has now been downloaded and is being analyzed.

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