The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Dutch agency warns glitch in autopilot systems may be behind 23 airline incidents globally

  • Print

AMSTERDAM - The Netherlands' air safety agency says it has detected a glitch that can cause airplane autopilot systems to respond in a dangerous way when a plane is attempting a steeper than normal landing approach.

In a report published Thursday, the Dutch Safety Board, which investigates disasters and potential accidents, said the glitch in some runway technology systems can cause the autopilot to pull up a plane's nose at the wrong moment during a steep approach, potentially leading to a stall.

The agency has notified airline safety organizations globally of the issue. Its investigation stemmed from a May 2013 incident at Eindhoven Airport, and it examined four similar incidents in Europe and 19 in the United States involving different aircraft, airports and airlines. Agency spokesman Wim van der Weegen said none of the incidents caused a crash.

Approximately 1,500 to 2,000 major runways worldwide use an Instrument Landing System, or ILS.

Describing the problem in more detail, the Dutch agency report said the ILS sends out two radio signals, one to "fly higher" and another to "fly lower," which work together to help planes coming in for a landing centre on a downward glide slope of 3 degrees.

The study found that planes coming in at a slope of between 3 and 9 degrees are correctly instructed to fly lower. But if a plane approaches above a slope of 9 degrees, instruments are liable to read a false "reverse" signal instructing them to fly up. When a plane is on autopilot, its nose will pitch up, causing it to lose speed or even stall.

The agency said the essence of its recommendation is that "pilots and other professionals in the aviation sector should be aware of the existence of reversed signals ... and of the response to such signals by the autopilot."

The agency added a warning that it is generally worried that overreliance on autopilots is leading to a reduction in pilots' skills.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Gail Asper says museum honours her father’s vision

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Marc Gallant / Winnipeg Free Press. Local- WINTER FILE. Snowboarder at Stony Mountain Ski Hill. November 14, 2006.
  • Marc Gallant/Winnipeg Free Press. Gardening Column- Assiniboine Park English Garden. July 19, 2002.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you think the Scottish independence referendum will have an effect in Canada?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google