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Investigators probe premature A319 flap retraction

Investigators are looking into a departure incident at Bristol during which the flaps on an Airbus A319 were retracted instead of the undercarriage.

The incident took place on 16 February, states French investigation authority BEA, adding that it is being studied by the UK’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch.

BEA has not identified the operator, airframe or the specific flight involved.

But it says that, according to preliminary information from the UK investigators, the aircraft’s flaps were retracted “instead of the landing-gear” at a height of 40ft during take-off.

While the undercarriage would typically be retracted once positive climb has been achieved, flaps would not normally be retracted until the aircraft had reached a much greater height.

Under European certification specifications the aircraft’s configuration – other than the position of its landing-gear – must not be changed until it has reached at least 400ft.

Individual carrier procedures determine the height at which the flaps would normally be retracted, once the aircraft had entered the acceleration phase of the climb.

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