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ANA plane flew almost belly-up after copilot error
[September 28, 2011]

ANA plane flew almost belly-up after copilot error

(Japan Economic Newswire Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) TOKYO, Sept. 28 -- (Kyodo) _ An All Nippon Airways airplane briefly flew almost belly-up when it nosedived off Shizuoka Prefecture en route to Tokyo early this month, the Japan Transport Safety Board said Wednesday.

Flight 140 from Naha to Haneda, with 117 crew and passengers on board, managed to land at the Tokyo airport despite dropping about 1,900 meters from a height of about 12,500 meters in 30 seconds. Two flight attendants were slightly hurt, while four passengers later complained of ill-health.

The safety board's head, Norihiro Goto, told a news conference that data on the Boeing 737-700's digital flight recorder showed that in the incident which occurred at 10:50 p.m. Sept. 6, the twin-engine jet rolled to the left and descended after slightly rolling to the right when a copilot mistakenly operated the rudder trim knob in the cockpit.

The narrow-body aircraft continued to roll until it reached 131.7 degrees to the left, leaving it almost belly-up, according to the board. Its nose pointed down as much as 35 degrees at one point.

"The centrifugal force (exerted by the maneuver) may have helped lessen the impact on the passengers," Goto said.

Following the revelation that the airplane had flown almost belly-up, ANA Senior Executive Vice President Shin Nagase said at a separate news conference, "We deeply apologize for causing tremendous trouble and anxiety to our passengers." The unintended maneuver was caused when the copilot, in trying to unlock the cockpit door for the captain who was returning from a rest room in the cabin, mistook the rudder trim knob for the cockpit door lock switch nearby.

The incident occurred while the aircraft was flying over the Pacific about 40 kilometers south of Hamamatsu.

The transport safety board is investigating the incident.

(c) 2011 Kyodo News International, Inc.

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