Expatica news

Court told of pilot error in emergency landing

11 May 2004

HANOVER – An Airbus pilot who was forced to make an emergency landing in Vienna after running out of fuel should have known much earlier the plane’s kerosene levels were dangerously low, a German court was told Tuesday.

Air accident investigator Christian-Heinz Schuberdt told the court in Hanover that fuel levels would have been alarmingly low as the plane flew over the Croatian capital Zagreb.

“An emergency already existed before Zagreb,” he said.

It is alleged pilot Wolfgang Arminger, 59, ignored alarm signals in the cockpit of the Airbus A310 and decided to try to reach Vienna airport instead of make an emergency landing at Zagreb.

He is accused of “dangerous encroachment of air traffic” and could face a jail term of between six months and 10 years on conviction.

Arminger had been regarded as a hero by passengers for successfully landing the German Hapag-Lloyd charter plane almost four years ago after both the aircraft’s engines shut down when fuel ran out.

He managed to glide the last 20 kilometres to Vienna’s Schwechat airport, making an emergency landing next to the runway which resulted in one engine and a wing being ripped off.

Passengers on the flight from Crete to Hanover were evacuated using emergency chutes, with 13 of the 151 people on board being treated for minor injuries in hospital.

On the first day of the trial last week, the court was told the aircraft’s landing gear failed to retract after take-off on 12 July 2000.

As a result of extra drag from the landing gear, the plane was consuming extra fuel.

Arminger, whose flying licence was rescinded a year after the incident, told the court he had relied on data from the plane’s flight management system (FMS) which had not calculated for the lowered landing gear.

An experienced pilot with 8,490 flying hours on the Airbus A310 alone, Arminger said he had not realized the FMS was not delivering correct data on fuel consumption. Pilots had been trained to trust the FMS, he said.

The trial continues.


Subject: German news