A heavily laden jumbo jet crashed near Stansted airport after a known fault was not repaired, the accident report said yesterday. The Korean Air cargo plane, which narrowly missed the village of Great Hallingbury close to the M11 after taking off en route to Italy, had a faulty electronic aid which meant the pilot was misinformed about the angle of the aircraft.
The crash, in December 1999, killed both pilots and two engineers. The report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) found the jet was in an "extreme roll and pitch attitude" which went undetected by the pilot because of the fault with the attitude director indicator, which shows pilots the angle of the plane.
The malfunction had been identified when the aircraft left Tashkent, but work by a British avionics engineer on the instruction of a Korean Air colleague did not correct it. So when the pilot turned the plane to the left, the turn continued until the plane hit the ground. The instrument showed a "near zero" roll attitude during flight, but another device had registered a warning on three occasions.
The report said that the "inexperienced" co-pilot, who was 33, did not alert the captain, aged 57, to the unsafe position. The AAIB made six safety recommendations to ensure a tightening of safety procedures.