Plane piloted by apprentice pilot crashes as door opens mid-flight

An aircraft piloted by a student pilot crashed when the main door opened during a training flight.

The terrifying incident happened during the leaner pilot’s first test lesson in the Piper PA-28-180 single-engine fixed-wing aircraft.

The 49-year-old instructor rushed to close the door as the plane was piloted by the student.

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As this unfolded during the training flight at Mid Wales Airport, Welshpool, the plane lost altitude about 150m from the runway and crashed into a hedge, NorthWalesLive reports.

The instructor and student were uninjured but “significant damage” was done to the landing gear and propeller.

The incident occurred just after 10:30 July 9, 2021, and a report on the accident by the Investigations Directorate of air accidents (AAIB) has now been published.

The report said: “The instructor was on his first instructional flight, a trial lesson with a scheduled disembarkation at Mid-Wales Airport, Welshpool.

“Approximately 10 minutes into the flight, as the student was flying, the main door began to open.

“The instructor made several unsuccessful attempts to close it, and then decided to continue to Welshpool because they understood that the departure aerodrome was busy.

“A straight-in approach was requested, and the instructor explained the approach procedure to the student.

“The aircraft was lined up with the runway with flaps and was stable at 67 kt. The student flew the approach with the following instructor commands while keeping the door closed.”

The report adds: “The instructor reported, approximately 150m from the runway, the aircraft lost lift and plummeted, losing altitude, full power was immediately applied and the aircraft crashed. pitched up, but it continued to descend, making a go-around impossible’.

“The main landing gear stuck [sic] a hedge in the undergrowth and detached. The aircraft came to rest about 200m from the hedge and next to the runway.”

The CAA Skyway Code highlights distraction, such as an open door, as a risk that can lead to loss of control.

He says: “The most important message is to fly the plane. »

The AAIB report states that the aircraft’s pilot operating manual does not include a procedure for an open door in flight.

Later versions of similar aircraft contain a procedure and operating advice that states: “A partially open door will not affect normal flight characteristics, and a normal landing can be made with the door open.”

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