LONDON – The U.K. Military Aviation Authority (MAA) is calling for changes in the culture and behavior of aircrews after it found the near loss of one of the U.K.’s Airbus A330 tanker aircraft was caused by the positioning of the captain’s personal camera.
In its March 23 report, the MAA describes how the Airbus A330-200 Voyager multi-role tanker transport came close to being lost with all 198 passengers and crew onboard.
The incident took place during a trooping flight to Afghanistan on Feb. 9 last year. A crash was narrowly avoided thanks to the aircraft’s flight envelope protection system, the report says.
The MAA says the aircraft, operated by the Airtanker consortium on behalf of the U.K. Royal Air Force (RAF) but being flown by a RAF crew, was over the Black Sea at 33,000 ft. en route to Camp Bastion, Helmand Province.
The captain was alone on the flight deck as the co-pilot took a break. During this time, the captain took 28 photos of the flight deck using his personal digital SLR camera before placing the camera between the captain’s seat armrest and the left-hand side-stick controller.
One minute before the incident, the captain began moving his seat forward, creating a slight physical jam between the armrest and the side-stick, which had the camera wedged between them.
“At the onset of the event, the captain’s seat was moved forward again, forcing the side-stick fully forward and initiating the pitch-down command,” the report says.