US pilot mid-air issue incidents on the rise

Image copyright Uber Image caption A passenger plane attempted to land in Memphis in 2006

The number of pilots reporting mid-air problems with landing in the US is on the rise.

The US Federal Aviation Administration recorded a 1% rise in “incidents”.

Last year the majority of incidents involved an airline pilot trying to land without a clear understanding of the air’s condition and yield warning system.

This was down from 51 to 50 for the 777 and seven to five for the 737.

The incidents recorded were not always reported to the FAA by the pilot. Most pilots said it was left to the airline to report the problem back to them.

Six incidents in 2018 involved a jet attempting to land too close to the ground as a result of low visibilities caused by mist, high winds, fog or ash.

In one case, an aircraft travelling at 1,200mph (1,900km/h) was less than five metres (16ft) above ground level.

Last year, a plane travelling at 500mph (805km/h) was sitting three feet (10cm) away from the ground in a cattle trough.

The problem was worse in the Caribbean, with a Virgin Atlantic plane landing in the Bahamas three feet (one metre) off the ground – meaning that other planes would have had to be diverted or the runway declared closed to allow an emergency landing.

A Boeing 777 arriving in Boston had to switch to autopilot to avoid striking an object on the runway and land safely.

In San Francisco in 2017, a pilot became “unsteady upon arrival” while flying at 1,100mph (1,600km/h) for about 1,500m.

And around the world, Captain Pedro Girasoli of a flight bound for Portugal attempted to land on a runway with a building in the distance without fully being able to detect the direction of the sun in Amsterdam and Rome.

He described the jet’s performance as “very very poor”, “very strange” and “definitely not what we want”.

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