Experts often warn that texting while driving can cause auto accidents, but what about plane crashes? A distracted Jetstar pilot avoided a major disaster thanks to a system warning that the plane’s landing gear had not been lowered while attempting to land the aircraft. This potentially deadly incident wasn’t due to equipment failure, but instead was due to the pilot taking his eyes off of his equipment and focusing on his cell phone. At some point prior to bringing the 220-passenger Jetstar flight JQ57 in for a landing in Singapore, the plane’s captain failed to lower the aircraft’s landing gear and nearly came in for a crash landing.
While at an altitude of around 2,500 feet, the co-pilot looked over and saw that the captain was preoccupied with his phone. In his defense, the pilot’s superior claimed that he was trying to unlock the device to power it down. We’d hate to kick a guy while he’s down, but you don’t need 13,000 hours of flying experience (which he had), to know that that you might want to lower the gear prior to landing.
The plane’s captain doesn’t appear to be the only one distracted here, while at 1,000 feet, the first officer felt that something wasn’t right, but his 4,000 hours of flying experience still wasn’t enough to notice that the plane’s landing gear had not been engaged. It wasn’t until the plane reached 725 feet that an alarm sounded in the cockpit warning the pilots that the aircraft’s landing gear had not been lowered. At around 650 feet, the captain tried to lower the gear, but he was stopped by another alarm warning him that the plane had dropped below 500 feet, making the plane too close to the tarmac for a safe landing.
The co-pilot told investigators that the cockpit was able to abort the plane’s landing at 392 feet and pulled back up to avoid a crash landing. Aside from the distraction of a cell phone, investigators also believe that fatigue may have played a role in this near disastrous situation. Luckily no one was harmed and the only thing bruised in this incident were the egos of two embarrassed pilots.
[via: The Age]