Eagle-eyed engineers avert air disaster

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Two electrical engineers at Norwich international airport averted a potential tragedy when they alerted a pilot to a safety breach

The two engineers were checking runway lights at the airport when they spotted a small warning flag flapping on the already tax-ing light aircraft.

Believing there was a problem they decided to act swiftly by contacting the air traffic control tower and a message was sent to the pilot who then removed the flag.

Ian Dent and Andrew Bromley were the two electrical engineers who spotted the potential hazard and raised the alarm, preventing a possible crash. Ian said:

“I spotted the flag was flapping and realised it should not be there. We called the tower and they informed the pilot.

"It’s rare for things like this to happen but we are always very safe all the time.”

The flag was an alert for the ‘pitot head’ cover, which should have been removed by the pilot before flight, enabling the pitot head to measure the speed of the aircraft. If the two engineers had not spotted the flag, the flight could have been a potential disaster.

Elliott Summers, managing director of the airport, said:

“By flying the aircraft with the cover still attached, the pilot would not receive accurate or potentially any airspeed indication.

“In cases where the pilot may be flying in cloud and therefore also has no visual reference, the lack of airspeed indication has resulted in the crashing of an aircraft and subsequent fatalities".

Elliot Summers continued by praising the alert staff for using their initiative and acting proficiently.

She said:

“The quick actions of the alert staff at the airport may have prevented such an event.

“They are testament to the systematic approach to safety at the airport under the Safety Management System (SMS) in that everybody has a responsibility for safety, irrespective of their front-line operational responsibilities. We are in this case delighted by the actions of our staff.”

Bob Moore, technical services manager, added:

“It shows that the ongoing investment in training and having the right personnel in the right positions pays off when situations like this come to light.”

Luckily a tragedy was averted.

If you are flying from Norwich this winter, remember to pre-book your airport parking with Norwich Airport Parking for the best prices.

Prices for Norwich airport parking start at just £7.00 per day.

This price is correct for bookings searched 19-26 March 2009. Prices are subject to change. Book Norwich Airport Parking in advance to get the best prices and availability.