Although all the flying controls were completely useless, Capt Eric Gennotte appreciated he could control pitch with thrust. After the missile strike, he stopped the climb by reducing power, creating a nose-down pitch moment. But any descent caused the speed to build, causing the nose to rise again.

The crew began experimenting with the results of power change, using symmetrical power at first, but meanwhile the aircraft was in a continuous left turn because of the drag and loss of lift from the damaged port outer wing.

Gennotte began applying asymmetric power to control heading and keep the left wing up. Control was acutely difficult because the pitch response to power change was rapid, but the roll response to asymmetric power change was painfully slow.

In recognition of the high level of their skills, Capt Eric Gennotte, first officer Steeve Michielsen and flight engineer Mario Rofail have now been presented with honours by the Belgian Cockpit Association and the UK Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators, and are in line for a special citation by the Flight Safety Foundation at its seminar in Shanghai next week.

Source: Flight International