A report has finally concluded, years afterwards, that pilot fatigue was to blame for the serious incident.
An investigation into an incident just over three years ago at Denmark’s increasingly busy Billund Airport has concluded that a tired pilot was the reason behind the near tragedy.
The Swiss Accident Investigation Board has issued a final report stating the probable causes of the serious incident, which occurred when an incoming SAAB 2000 aircraft was under the minimum height during a “non-precision approach”.
This meant there was no longer any guarantee that the plane was at a safe altitude above obstacles on land, the Aviation Herald reports.
The incident occurred on December 10, 2015, when the plane operated by the now-bankrupt Swiss carrier Darwin Airline, also known as Etihad Regional and Adria Airways Switzerland, on behalf of the also-bankrupt airberlin, was landing at Billund on a flight from Berlin.
The approach height of the SAAB, which had 26 passengers and three crew on board, was far too low.
The arrival had been scheduled for 14:10 but the plane was slightly delayed. The pilots were alerted to the low altitude, ascended and tried to land again, but the second attempt also failed and the plane returned to Berlin.
The Danish Accident Investigation Board reported the incident as “serious” and sent the case to the Swiss Accident Investigation Board.
The pilots’ lack of assessment of the flight path has now been determined as the direct cause of the incident.
The Swiss Accident Investigation Board states that two factors contributed to the pilots’ actions – an inadequate approach in terms of the vertical flight path and the reduced performance of the captain probably due to fatigue.
The captain had not slept much the night before. After changing his roster, he flew from Berlin to Prague the evening before at 22.32. A few hours later, at 05:20, he was picked up from his hotel for the return flight to Berlin. Then came the flight to Billund.