Report: Co-pilot actually saved crowded jet

March 4, 2008 10:34:24 AM PST
Federal investigators said Tuesday that a Lufthansa jet that grazed the runway as it attempted to land amid gusting wind - a dramatic incident captured on amateur video - was being flown by the co-pilot.

Germany's Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Investigation confirmed a report in the newspaper Bild that the plane was being flown by the co-pilot and not the more-experienced pilot.

Stefanie Stotz, a spokeswoman for Cologne-based Deutsche Lufthansa AG said the company would not comment on the report or identify the crew in the cockpit, citing the ongoing investigation.

"We never go into details on who was at the wheel. It is just Lufthansa's policy," she told The Associated Press.

But she said the successful landing, which happened on the Airbus A320's second try, was evidence of the "mutual teamwork that led to the safe touchdown the second time around."

The plane, with 131 passengers aboard, was bound for Hamburg airport on a flight from Munich during a storm Saturday. As it approached, the craft was caught by gusting wind as it tried to land, causing the tip of the aircraft's left wing to graze the runway before it pulled back aloft.

The incident left many of the passengers in shock.

"When the plane started again (after grazing its wing on the runway) I nearly passed out, I was in shock, I stopped breathing," Laura Mathes told German television. "Then I forgot about everything else around me, and my aunt took care of me and calmed me down."

Despite the experience, Sonja Lhota said she would continue to fly on Lufthansa, Germany's biggest airline.

"I must say that I will choose Lufthansa again, because you always know what you will get," she told German television.

The Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Investigation is still investigating the incident, including why the runway was in use amid the gusting wind.

Axel Raab, a spokesman for Deutsche Flugsicherung, which runs German air traffic control operations, said he believed neither tower nor pilot had done anything wrong. He praised the pilot for "a very professional maneuver."

The plane was repaired and put back into service Sunday.

http://www.lufthansa.com


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