ANA Plane Nearly Flips Upside Down after Apparent Pilot Error

An executive with ANA (All Nippon Airways) made a televised apology after what the Wall Street Journal called a “near catastrophe”: a plane nearly flipped upside down while plunging more than 6,000 feet in 30 seconds. A couple of flight attendants were slightly injured, and somewhat amazingly, only about a half-dozen of the 100-plus passengers on the plane got airsick.

Co-Pilot: Did He Press the Wrong Button?

Officials seem to be blaming the co-pilot for the Sept. 6 incident; apparently, they believe he pressed a wrong button. According to the scenario, the co-pilot meant to unlock the cabin door to let the pilot back in after a visit to the restroom but he “probably” hit the rudder trim controls by mistake. My initial reaction is, can someone actually press the “flip the plane over” button accidentally instead of the “open the door” button? Somehow, this doesn’t quite pass the smell test, but when there are further details on the cause of this snafu, I’ll pass them along.

Dangerous Aircraft Stresses

Check out the computer graphic animation video of the incident; it will make you queasy. And to give you an idea of how badly this could have turned out, according to investigators, “the slip-up caused a roll and descent so violent that the jet exceeded certain maximum allowable speeds and also was subjected to stresses beyond its acceleration limits.”

Read Dreamliner Takes Flight this Month with ANA

Poor Timing: ANA and Dreamliner

Incredibly poor timing on this, since the first Boeing 787, better known as the ig Dreamliner plane, arrived in Tokyo yesterday just before the revelations about the plane-flip became public. ANA is the first customer to receive one of these big new planes but the celebrations have been understandably muted in the wake of this incident.

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Published: September 29, 2011