Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Airline Pilot Mistakes Planet Venus For Another Plane
Pilot sends plane into dive after mistaking Planet Venus for oncoming plane
Ric Ward, CNN
Tue April 17, 2012
Not the actual plane shone
The first officer became disoriented after a nap and mistook Venus for an oncoming cargo plane. Reacting instinctively, he put the Air Canada passenger jet into a violent dive.
14 passengers and 2 flight attendants were injured
The captain saw what was happening and immediately pulled back on the control column in a frantic attempt to increase altitude. As quickly as that, the C-17 passed underneath the Air Canada jumbo jet with 103 people on board.
Within seconds, the plane had gone from its assigned altitude of 35,000 feet down to 34,600 feet and back up to 35,400 feet before finally recovering back to its 35,000 feet cruising altitude.
It sent passengers who were not wearing their seat belts flying.
"I do remember them asking for a doctor -- if there was a doctor," said Julia Pickering, a passenger. "There was a pregnant woman on the flight and she had some injuries."
The flight continued to Zurich, where the injured passengers and crew were treated.
The incident points out a couple of inherent risks.
First, "North American-based pilots flying eastbound at night towards Europe are at increased risk of fatigue-related performance" issues.
It also proves the warning you often hear -- but might ignore -- that passengers should wear their safety belts at all times when seated.