Firefly AT72 at Koh Samui on Mar 17th 2012, high powered communication exchange in cockpit, spiral dive in initial climb

Last Update: April 18, 2012 / 14:47:54 GMT/Zulu time

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Incident Facts

Date of incident
Mar 17, 2012

Airline
Firefly

Aircraft Registration
EI-LAX

Aircraft Type
ATR ATR-72-200

ICAO Type Designator
AT72

A Firefly Avion de Regional Transport ATR-72-500, flight FY-3609 from Koh Samui (Thailand) to Kuala Lumpur Subang (Malaysia) with 70 passengers, was taxiing for departure when captain and second officer at the flight deck began to engage in a debate. While the aircraft lined up for departure on runway 17, flaps in takeoff position, shouting from the flight deck was heard in the passenger cabin. The initial takeoff run appeared sluggish, about half way down the runway engines were accelerated, the takeoff acceleration returned to normal and the aircraft rotated safely off the runway, shouting continued throughout the takeoff run. While climbing out of the runway flaps and gear were retracted, shouting still continued, at about 1500 feet AGL the aircraft rolled slightly right followed by pronounced roll to the left to beyond 45 degrees of bank, the aircraft lost about 500 feet of height before the wing rolled sharply level and the aircraft recovered from the dive. While shouting still continued on the flight deck the flight set course to Kuala Lumpur, about 15 minutes after departure the shouting ceased. The aircraft landed safely in Kuala Lumpur about 2 hours after departure.

An aviation professional on board of the aircraft reported he heard the shouting throughout takeoff and departure for about 15 minutes. The takeoff run appeared sluggish initially, engines were accelerated about half way into the takeoff and a normal rotation and initial climb occurred, the aircraft was cleaned and reached about 1500 feet AGL in clean configuration, when the aircraft rolled slightly right followed by a pronounced roll to the left definitely beyond 45 degrees of bank, probably around about 60 degrees of bank. The body weight was nearly completely lost during that time, he saw out of the window and felt that the aircraft settled in a spiral dive losing an estimated 500 feet of height before the aircraft snap rolled wings level within a second. Shouting subsided about 15 minutes after departure. Besides the shouting he was not able to hear any other cockpit sounds including aural alarms or stick shaker. The professional filed reports with the airline, Malaysia's DCA and the aircraft manufacturer, only the airline replied stating they take the incident very seriously and both pilots have been suspended but offering no further explanation of the events.

Another passenger reported he heard shouting from the flight deck during takeoff and believed the aircraft had been hijacked. The takeoff run was rather slow, engines accelerated during the run and the aircraft became eventually airborne. During the climb the aircraft rolled slightly right then rolled steeply left, he lost about 80% of his body weight at that time. The aircraft then rolled right to wings level, the weight returned to about twice his body weight. The shouting on the flight deck continued for about 15 minutes.

The airline told The Aviation Herald: We deeply regret and apologise for any distress experienced by our passengers and would like to make the following clarifications. After a thorough investigation, it has been concluded that while taxing and during take-off from Koh Samui International Airport, there was a crew resource management failure by Captain in charge which resulted in a "high powered" communication exchange in the cockpit between Captain and the Second Officer. This failure had lead to the events which took place during the flight however at no time did the aircraft stall. The Captain initiated the necessary corrective measures and the flight continued on to its destination without further incident and landed safely and securely in Subang. We would like to put on record that this form of communication is not tolerated by Firefly management. These findings were established during the Technical / Fact Finding Inquiry that was held to investigate this incident, which in turn made the recommendations for the appropriate action to be taken against the pilots and crew to ensure that this do not happen again. The Captain is no longer serving with Firefly. Once again, we would like to express our sincere apologies to all passengers on FY3609.

The airline did not follow up on questions that arose out this statement, that permits interpretations like the spiral dive was caused by the crew, unintentionally or even intentionally.

Malaysia's Directorate of Civil Aviation (DCA) chose to not respond to the aviation professional's and The Aviation Herald's reports and questions.
Incident Facts

Date of incident
Mar 17, 2012

Airline
Firefly

Aircraft Registration
EI-LAX

Aircraft Type
ATR ATR-72-200

ICAO Type Designator
AT72

This article is published under license from Avherald.com. © of text by Avherald.com.
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