×

We've got news for you.

Register on TimesLIVE at no cost to receive newsletters, read exclusive articles & more.
Register now

Pilot distracted by cellphone missed fuel problem and had to issue Mayday call

22 January 2022 - 16:54
“The pilot declared an emergency by broadcasting a PAN-PAN call and a Mayday call to Lanseria air traffic control,” said a Civil Aviation Authority limited serious incident investigation report.
“The pilot declared an emergency by broadcasting a PAN-PAN call and a Mayday call to Lanseria air traffic control,” said a Civil Aviation Authority limited serious incident investigation report.
Image: 123rf/leaf

If you think driving while talking on a cellphone is dangerous, what about flying?

A Johannesburg pilot found out when a cellphone call distracted him during preflight checks, leading to an error that resulted in a midair emergency.

The call meant both engines of his Cessna 421C were feeding from the right-side fuel tank as he took off from Lanseria Airport in August 2021, bound for Ondangwa Airport in Namibia.

As he climbed to 13,500ft over Pilanesberg Airport, the pilot noticed the left wing was consistently dropping.

“The pilot declared an emergency by broadcasting a PAN-PAN call and a Mayday call to Lanseria air traffic control,” said a Civil Aviation Authority limited serious incident investigation report.

An illustration from the serious incident investigation report shows the plane involved and the differing fuel levels in each tank after its emergency landing at Pilanesberg.
An illustration from the serious incident investigation report shows the plane involved and the differing fuel levels in each tank after its emergency landing at Pilanesberg.
Image: Civil Aviation Authority

He was directed to make an emergency landing at Pilanesberg, near Sun City, and found the left fuel tank was still full while the right tank was severely depleted.

The pilot told a CAA investigator that he had been distracted by a cellphone call while going through the preflight checklist.

The report said the cause of the aircraft flying with its left wing low was a fuel imbalance. “Pilots should ensure that there are no distractions such as active mobile phones during operation of aircraft,” it said.

After refuelling the right tank at Pilanesberg, the aircraft continued its journey to Namibia.

TimesLIVE



subscribe

Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.