Newly released footage from the cockpit of a fallen Boeing 737 has offered us a shocking insight into what it’s like to be in the pilot seat of a plane as it crashes into water.
The video was released by the Papua New Guinea Accident Investigation Commission (PNG AIC) and is taken from the cockpit of an Air Niugini plane that crashed 1,500ft from a runway in Micronesia, Papua New Guinea, last September.
One man was killed in the crash and nine other passengers were injured, with the subsequent investigation finding that the pilots ignored numerous ‘pull up’ warning lights on their descent.
The report into the crash by the PNG AIC said the captain and first officer ignored a total of 17 audible warnings that they were flying too low.
The interior of the sunken jet as photographed by divers. Credit: Papua New Guinea Accident Investigation Commission
The report read: “The crew were fixated on the task of landing the aircraft and did not notice the visual PULL UP caution alert at the bottom of their PFD.
“Therefore, they (the crew) did not take any positive action to arrest the high rate of descent and avoid landing in the lagoon. In fact, neither of the pilots were aware of the rapidly unfolding unsafe situation.
“The crew seemed to have disregarded and talked over all the caution annunciations. The crew had experienced those type of cautions on previous flights and perceived them as nuisance alerts with no resultant consequence.”
It continued: “The flight crew did not take corrective action to bring the aircraft back onto the required flight path. The flight crew disregarded and continuously talked over the aural alerts.
“Both pilots were not situationally aware and did not recognise the developing significant unsafe condition during the approach.”
The broken fuselage from the ocean bed. Credit: Papua New Guinea Accident Investigation Commission
Neither the captain nor the co-pilot were named in the report, despite being heavily blamed. The report did specify that the captain was a 52-year-old from Papua New Guinea with 20,000 hours of experience.
However, under his control, there was an ‘excessively high rate of descent and the aircraft increasingly being flown below the glideslope in an unstabilised manner’.
The first officer was a 35-year-old Australian who can be heard in the cockpit footage shouting moments before the plane hit the water: “Too low! We’re too low! We’re too low! We’re too low!”
The report also found that the one passenger who died – whose body was discovered by divers three days after the crash – wasn’t wearing a seat belt ‘which allowed his body to become a projectile sustaining traumatic head and facial injuries’.