Ministry releases preliminary report on plane that skidded off Istanbul airport runway

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Turkey’s Transport and Infrastructure Ministry on March 11 released a preliminary report on a passenger plane that skidded off the runway at an Istanbul airport last month.

On Feb. 5, Pegasus Airlines flight PC2193 was arriving from Turkey’s Aegean province of İzmir when it skidded off runway while landing at the Sabiha Gökçen International Airport.

The plane drifted around 50 meters and the nose of the plane almost completely separated from the rest of the fuselage, which burst into flames following the crash as three people died among the 177 passengers and six crew members on board.

The report by Transport Safety Investigation Center which is submitted to the Istanbul prosecutors said that the lightning that struck the airplane six minutes before landing increased the pilots’ stress level.

This was because the pilots wanted to land as soon as possible, and avoid any potential problems in the landing, according to the report referring to the voice recordings that record conversations between captain pilot and first officer.

“It was understood that the pilots who received the landing permit applied the approach and landing procedures after making their preparations and that the landing occurred properly, despite the deviation in the lowering route,” the report noted.

“The aircraft could not stop on the runway, it first crashed into the ILS antennas, then the guard booth and finally fell on the area about 30 meters deep from the runway head,” it added.

The pilots did not use “manual braking” for six seconds after the mainwheel touchdown on the runway, as a result of which the aircraft did not slow down due to the accelerating effect of the rear wind, according to the report.

One the pilots noticed that the plane was not decelerating, they applied manual braking, and continued to do so until the end of the runway, the report said.

The aircraft body, the findings noted, broke into three pieces after hitting the concrete wall and wire fences surrounding the airport. Engines, landing gear, wings, and some other parts were found to be broken.

Following the accident, the Istanbul prosecutors launched an investigation into the two pilots of the crashed plane for possible negligence.

On Feb. 24, authorities arrested the captain following his discharge from a hospital where he had been treated. The pilot, Mahmut Arslan faces charges of “involuntary manslaughter and causing injury.”

The speed of the plane was 84 knots due to the rear wind and did not slow down, prompting the pilots to brake manually six seconds after noticing this, the captain pilot said in his statements, adding that the detection of this abnormality normally should have been done by the first officer.

Pegasus has had several recent instances of overshooting runways.

Another Pegasus Airlines plane skidded off the runway at the same airport on Jan. 7, causing the temporary closure of the airport. There were no injuries.

In January 2018, another Boeing 737 in the Pegasus fleet slid off a runway at Trabzon Airport in northeastern Turkey. The plane came to rest in the dirt above the Black Sea with its nose pointed toward the water. No one was injured.

Hurriyet Daily News

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