Ryanair crew failed to notice damage


THE CREW of a Ryanair flight failed to realise that the left engine had touched the runway when landing at Dublin airport, a report by the Air Accident Investigation Unit has found.

The damage caused to the left engine nacelle (cover) went unnoticed for two subsequent flights, the report found. However, the damage was minor and there were no injuries.

The scraping on the engine cover came to the airline’s attention later that day due to a report by a member of the public.

The incident occurred when the flight from Rome landed at Dublin airport at 12.45pm on November 19th, 2009, in blustery conditions. There were 127 passengers and six crew on board the flight.

The left engine cover scraped the surface when the aircraft rolled to the left and pitched nose down.

The pilot did not suspect ground contact and for that reason did not report it or record it in the technical log, according to the report released yesterday.

“The commander said that the aircraft landed quite benignly albeit with the left wing low. The commander reported that at no stage did he or the first officer suspect ground contact,” the report said.

Subsequently a different crew operated the same Boeing 737 plane on two flights between Dublin and Poland.

The crew did not notice the damage in the required visual inspection of the plane before each of these flights.

The scraping was on the bottom surface of the engine cover, about 60cm above the ground.

The report noted the pilot is not required to squat low or use a mirror during the walk-around inspection.

The pilot of the Polish flight reported that “no damage was visible from the normal eye level and the crew of the inbound flight did not notice anything unusual”.

On returning to Dublin the pilot of the Polish flight learned that the scraping had been reported earlier by a member of the public.

Ryanair reported the event to the Air Accident Investigation Unit on November 20th, 2009.

The serious accident report concluded that the pilot of the Rome flight should have aborted the landing and tried again (conducted a go-around) because of the low manoeuvring close to the ground, the investigators said.

It said that the landing was made in blustery conditions but within crosswind limitations.

It found that the aircraft had landed on the left landing gear first before landing on the front and then right gear.

The nose had dropped two seconds before the left main gear contacted the ground, it said.

The report recommended that aircraft manufacturer Boeing should amend the pre-flight inspection checklist to include the checking of the lower surfaces of the engine nacelles for evidence of ground contact.

Ryanair should conduct a safety awareness programme to tell the flight crew about the threat of engine nacelle ground contact when landing in difficult wind conditions, the report said.

It also recommended that Boeing should make revisions to its flight crew training manual.