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Text Message Saves Flight

Thursday, 7 August 2008

A quick-thinking air traffic controller’s texting saved an aircraft with five people on board which had lost all communications and electrical power.

The Piper Seneca light aircraft had taken off from Kerry airport on a flight to Jersey last November when it had a complete electrical failure.

The pilot flew south to clear the coast and clouds and to see the ground. He tried to contact Kerry airport and air traffic control in Cork on his mobile phone. He briefly made contact with Cork, telling them about the problem.

He then received a text message on his mobile from the controller at Cork advising him that he was on radar and that Cork would allow the plane to land.

He followed the controller’s instructions given by text. The undercarriage gear had to be lowered manually. The aircraft did a fly-by of the control tower so that controllers could check visually that the wheels were down.

The aircraft landed safely and an air accident investigation report published yesterday said the loss of all aircraft electrics during such a flight was considered very serious.

The report, by investigator John Hughes, praised the “positive and proactive ” initiative of the air traffic controller who texted his instructions to the pilot.


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