Engine door fell off plane during take off from Belfast just over a month before identical incident in Manchester

Flybe.
Flybe.

An engine door that fell off a Flybe passenger jet during take-off in Manchester last December fell off the same aircraft in Belfast just over a month previously, it's emerged.

None of the 27 passengers and four crew were hurt or injured when, according to the British Department of Transport's Air Accident Investigations Branch (AAIB), the engine access panel failed at its hinge attachment points at Manchester on December 14, 2016, and "departed the aircraft, striking and damaging the vertical stabiliser, before coming to rest on the runway and its grass verge."

But a newly-published AAIB report of the incident reveals an almost identical accident had occurred while the Flybe operated DHC-8-402 Dash 8 (Q400) was flying under a G-PRPC call sign on the popular Belfast City to Glasgow route on November 9, 2016.

On that morning the engine door also went missing, the AAIB has revealed.

The AAIB state: "At 0643 hrs, the aircraft departed from Runway 22 for a flight to Glasgow Airport.

"At 0700 hrs the flight crew from another departing aircraft from the same operator reported a foreign object on the runway.

"An inspection of the runway was carried out by Airport Operations at the request of Air Traffic Control and an engine access panel was recovered some 300 m from the threshold of Runway 22.

"G-PRPC landed at Glasgow at 0715 hrs, at which time the ground handling personnel
informed the flight crew that the No 1 engine access panel was missing from the aircraft.

"Further inspection also identified damage to the left wing leading edge de-icing boot and wing skin panel.

"The recovered access panel showed that all four latches were closed.

"There was no damage to the nacelle where the latching bolt receiving features were located.

"Following this incident, on November 29, 2016, the operator issued Notice to Engineers
(NTE) 22 requiring that: ‘Following completion of all work either an independent person carries out a walkround inspection to verify all access panels are fitted/secure, or the certifying engineer must return after a notable period of time for a double check of the security of the disturbed panel security.

"The independent person could be a technician or a pilot, or the notable period of time could be after completion of paper work.’"

The aircraft safety body has advised that human error was likely to blame for both accidents.

Referring to the Manchester incident the AAIB report that the door was not "securely closed by the engineer, due to the latch bolts not engaging in the nacelle receiving features when the latches were closed" and that "contributory factors may have been a slight mismatch in the closure of the panel and the technique used by the engineer of closing the top latches first."

The AAIB also identified inconsistencies in checks by flight and ground crew before take-off.

It has made a number of safety recommendations in wake of both incidents.