A Ryanair cabin crew member suffered a broken ankle as a result of an over-reaction by a pilot to an aircraft entering a jet stream, an investigation has found.
A report by the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch revealed details of the incident which occurred at 36,700ft during a descent by the Ryanair Boeing 737 into Manchester Airport on January 14, 2017.
A total of 95 passengers and crew were on board.
The AAIB report said the incident arose after the aircraft passed through a high-altitude jet stream and an associated headwind which caused it to overspeed.
The commander disengaged the autopilot system and used manual controls to prevent the aircraft’s speed increasing but in doing so pitched the nose of the aircraft upwards significantly.
The manoeuvre caused two cabin crew to fall, which resulted in one of them suffering a broken ankle.
The commander told investigators that he had never seen airspeed increase to such a level before and he acknowledged there was a “startle effect” in his response.
While he believed he was managing the manoeuvre gently, the commander said he suspected in hindsight that the startle effect had caused him to exert more force on the control column than intended.
It was the second incident in which a Ryanair cabin crew member suffered a fractured ankle as a result of a pilot disconnecting the autopilot system and switching to manual controls.
The previous event had occurred in September 2012. The AAIB said a similar incident had also occurred on a Qantas flight descending into Canberra, Australia, in March 2017, which resulted in two cabin crew suffering injuries.
Boeing told the AAIB it was aware of other similar occurrences.
Following the incident, Ryanair issued a guidance notice to pilots about recognising overspeed and how to address the issue. It pointed out there are increased risks associated with using manual controls during high altitude operations.
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