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EasyJet reviewing take-off data procedure: inquiry

EasyJet is reviewing its cockpit procedures in the wake of a series of recent incidents involving take-off data errors, after investigators highlighted recommendations for independent calculation.

The airline introduced electronic flightbags and a specific set of operational procedures – approved by the UK Civil Aviation Authority – in 2003.

While Airbus subsequently recommended a procedure by which each pilot independently calculates take-off performance data, before cross-checking the results, EasyJet opted not to implement this strategy.

The UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch says the airline believed its procedures were “already more appropriate” for its own operational requirements.

EasyJet uses a single electronic flightbag for the calculation procedure but with a series of cross-checking stages conducted throughout.

As part of the procedure the pilots formally declare that they are embarking on critical data entry, with the understanding that the whole process must be restarted in the event of distraction.

The monitoring pilot conducts the calculation and the flying pilot checks each crucial item including the flap setting, selected runway and intersection, runway length, speeds and configuration. Green-dot speed – an indicator of best lift-to-drag ratio – is used as a gross error check.

Airbus has previously transmitted a recommendation to operators stating that take-off calculations should be duplicated, with each pilot performing a separate computation.

UK investigators have highlighted this recommendation during a probe into a take-off incident in which an EasyJet Airbus A319 departed Malaga using data for the wrong runway.

The crew, which included a line-training captain and a first officer under training, had not noticed that a software anomaly allowed information about two different runways to be displayed on the same screen page.

Investigators have probed four other EasyJet take-off data mishaps – occurring at Belfast, London Luton, Lisbon and Lille – in less than 11 months between June 2015 and May 2016.

EasyJet is carrying out an “additional review” of its cockpit procedure policy, following the Malaga event, says the Air Accidents Investigation Branch.

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