herald

Saturday 10 December 2016

Flight 'unstable' in six seconds before landing, court told

Cassandra Reddin is suing Aer lingus for alleged injuries
Cassandra Reddin is suing Aer lingus for alleged injuries

An air safety expert has said the approach of a flight involved in an alleged heavy landing - over which a former flight attendant is suing for injuries - was unstable from six seconds before it touched down.

Former pilot, Captain Fintan Ryan, told the High Court in those six seconds a decision could have been made to go around to try and land again.

He was giving evidence in the third day of the action where it is claimed an Aer Lingus flight from Malaga to Dublin in landed in a heavy, dramatic fashion with an alleged inappropriate and excessive rate of descent.

Cassandra Reddin (33), Woodlands Manor, Ratoath, Co Meath, has sued Aer Lingus over the back and neck injuries she claimed she suffered in the incident on November 19, 2009.

She claims she suffered soft tissue neck and back injury and whiplash and that afterwards had nightmares where she woke up screaming.

Aer Lingus has denied the claims.

Captain Ryan told the court that when the plane bounced it was the second opportunity to make the decision to go around to attempt to land again.

He said there is a cross wind phenomenon at Dublin Airport and, when it is turbulent, it is a full-time job to manage an aeroplane.

Given the conditions with gusty wind, the plane should have had a rate of descent of about 500 to 600 feet per minute. But 16 feet above the runway the rate of descent was 1,400 feet per minute when it should have been reducing to 300 to 400 feet per minute.

"It was inevitable it was going to be a firm landing," he added.

The court also heard the pilot of the plane, in her air safety report 19 days afterwards, referred to a heavy landing and said the aircraft bounced on landing and settled back on the runway.

The court was told that Aer Lingus contends the plane did not bounce and the rate of descent was "a momentary blip". It was a sudden gust of wind as it landed which gave the plane its unusual landing, it is claimed.

The case continues.

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