In 2013 a Slovakian AirExplore Boeing 737-300 operating for TUI fly Netherlands was about to take off from runway 36L at Amsterdam Schiphol to Dalaman, Turkey. A passenger was filming outside and his father -a Boeing 747 captain- noticed that the flaps where not set for take-off. This movie was recently uploaded to YouTube.
A passenger, a Boeing 747 captain, tells his story: “My son posted this video as we were on board the aircraft as passengers going on a holiday. I know a little about flying as I am a 747 captain myself and I noticed that the pilots forgot to set the flaps“. As the aircraft lined up on runway 36L he ran to the cockpit to inform the pilots: “the take-off config1 was going off and could be heard until the flaps reached ‘flaps 5’ “.
During the flight, the passenger requested to speak with the captain, who refused. The passenger then left a note that he would inform the Dutch aviation authorities and that he would file an air safety report2, but the captain remained silent.
The passenger then contacted the TUI fly Netherlands flight safety officer and e-mailed him the video. The captain never filed a report or mentioned the error in the technical log. TUI fly Netherlands filed an air safety report and the airline reviewed the wet-lease with AirExplore. Apparently the captain of that particular flight was fired and the wet-lease contract with AirExplore ended after the season.
The passenger adds: “The captain in charge was neglecting his operating procedures, on top of that, he didn’t abort the take-off roll despite the take-off config warning. What if the flaps rolled out asymmetric ? A big crash near Amsterdam airport has been avoided!”
1 (A take-off warning system or TOWS is a set of warning signals required on most commercial aircraft, designed to alert the pilots of possibly dangerous errors in an aircraft’s take-off configuration)
2 The Aviation Safety Reporting System, or ASRS, is a voluntary confidential reporting system that allows pilots and other aircraft crew members to confidentially report near misses and close calls in the interest of improving air safety.
Featured image by Timo Breidenstein [GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html) or GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html)], via Wikimedia Commons