Mexico finds glaring errors in July airliner crash
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Investigators found a series of glaring errors in an Aeromexico flight that crashed in northern Mexico in July, injuring many of the 103 people aboard. Nobody died when the plane belly flopped after takeoff.
Among the findings was that a trainee pilot who was at the controls of the flight until five seconds before the crash did not have permission to be there and hadn’t completed simulator tests needed to train on working flights.
The captain who allowed him to take the controls was not qualified as a flight instructor. All the pilots were subsequently fired by the company.
The plane was brought down by apparent wind shear and a sudden downdraft known as a microburst.
The report published this week found the pilot wasn’t paying enough attention to the weather because he was watching the trainee. And the control tower authorized takeoff although controllers could no longer see the runway because of a sudden storm, and winds as high as 40 knots were recorded near the runway. The plane’s own wind shear warning system didn’t sound.
The air traffic controller did not relay the latest report on deteriorating weather conditions to the crew because he was working alone and was busy directing the flight. Additionally, weather reports from the station’s own weather station was interrupted by an electricity blackout.
The airport does not have a Low Level Wind Shear Alert System that can detect weather conditions like severe downdrafts or microbursts.
Flight data recorders indicate the plane only got 30 feet (9 meters) off the ground before it was forced down.
The report faulted the controller for not having warned the crew of possible wind shear conditions. And it said the captain took off despite too-high tail winds, and didn’t accelerate the plane’s engines to counter the adverse wind shifts.
The report, issued by the Office of Civil Aviation, recommended controllers not be left alone, that weather monitoring equipment at airports be improved and crew be trained to be more aware of possible wind shear.