Pilot fatigue blamed for jet accident

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A HOLIDAY aircraft with 357 passengers on board was badly damaged after a landing performed by pilots who had had little or no sleep for more than 20 hours, an accident report said yesterday.

The cabin crew, who earlier expressed concern about their long hours, also had to land the plane using an incorrect runway chart.

No one was hurt in the incident at Kos airport in Greece on 19 July 1998, in which part of the fuselage of the Caledonian Airways TriStar plane, flying from Gatwick, touched the runway.

Neither passengers nor crew realised they had been involved in a heavy landing. Problems with runway information meant that even after they had landed, the pilots did not know which part of the runway they had touched down on.

The report from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch said the captain and co-pilot had been called out from standby duty which started at 2pm and was due to finish at 8pm.

They had asked if anyone else was available because they were concerned about going on a long night flight which went beyond their on-duty period and they would have little time to rest beforehand.

No one else was available so the captain had tried to sleep in the afternoon but could not do so because of noise from a local pub.

"He decided to arrive at the airport early and slept in his car for 40 minutes prior to reporting for duty. Other than this, both he and the first officer [co-pilot] had been awake in excess of 20 hours at the time of the accident," said the AAIB report.

It said a combination of factors "resulted in a high workload for the crew at a time of day when they were likely to be experiencing a reduced level of alertness arising from their scheduling and work cycle".

t The crash of a 1944-built flying boat on a VIP promotional trip was probably caused by corrosion, an official accident report said yesterday.

The Mayor of Southampton, Michael Andrews, 51, and another passenger, Peter Shave, 43, died in the flooded aircraft despite the efforts of the pilot John Alsford, 44, who dived down to try to save them. The 12 other passengers and four crew all survived the crash on 27 July 1998.

The aircraft was flying in an air show organised by Southampton City Council to celebrate the Millennium.

"The corrosion had developed over a long time, but it went undetected," said the report.