By Staff writer
Unofficial transcript from flight recorders suggests pilot error may be behind accident that killed 62 people
A Russian state television channel has broadcast its interpretation of the transcript of the final conversation between the pilots of the Flydubai jet which crashed on 19 March in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, killing all 62 people on board.
The Rossiya-1 channel said it had obtained the transcript from a source in the investigative commission with access to flight recorders, the New York Times reported on Saturday.
The unofficial transcript, which had been translated into Russian, suggested that an error by a crew member could have been responsible for the crash, which occurred when the Boeing 737 attempted to land for the second time during difficult weather conditions.
The report suggested that the crew of the aircraft had attempted to pull up and try again after the second landing attempt, but that one of the pilots turned off the autopilot, possibly due to sudden turbulence. Shortly after that, the plane nose-dived to the ground.
The transcript recorded that one of the pilots had said “Don’t worry,” just before saying, “Don’t do that”. The last words recorded were repeated calls to “Pull up,” before only “inhuman screams” could be heard for the last six seconds.
“The television channel cited experts who suggested that by turning off the autopilot, the pilots were trying to pull the plane back to a horizontal position,” the New York Times report said. “But at that moment a stabilizing fin at the jet’s tail was switched on.
“With the fin activated, “the elevator is no longer working and the plane practically does not react to the pilot’s control panel,” the report said. The channel suggested that the pilot could have accidentally hit the button that activated the fin because of his reported “chronic fatigue.”
Flydubai said last week the safety and welfare of its crews were of primary importance following media reports of fatigue among its pilots, and advised against speculation over the circumstances of last week's deadly crash in Russia.
The United Nations' ICAO aviation agency requires member states to set maximum flight times and duty periods to ensure pilots stay alert and to have a system in place for managing fatigue.
Flydubai said it strictly followed flying duty time regulations in compiling rosters and the safety and welfare of flight and cabin crew were of primary importance.
"If a member of flight crew feels that, for whatever reason, they have not been able to get enough rest before starting a shift, our Safety Management Systems encourage pilots to declare themselves unfit to fly," the spokesperson said.