21st December 2016

G-COBO has a bumpy flight

G-COBO, one of Aurigny’s two ATR-72 aircraft, could probably find its way from Guernsey to the mainland on its own. As one of the airline’s workhorse planes, it has made the crossing dozens of times a week since its acquisition.

Almost all of those flights proceed without incident, but one – on 21 December 2016 – was particularly bumpy and will be long remembered by those onboard. The flight from Guernsey to Manchester had taken off at 5.18 that afternoon, carrying four crew and 61 passengers. The journey would normally last around an hour and a quarter, but this one was truncated when ice began to build up on the aircraft wings.

In what the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) classed as a “serious incident”, it had trouble climbing through the clouds after the crew had requested permission to increase their height, which would, theoretically, have helped with the icing problem.

An in-flight upset

However, in the words of the AAIB, it experienced “an in-flight upset… [and] was subsequently recovered to controlled flight, after which the crew elected to return to Guernsey. There were no injuries.”

The aircraft had been picking up so much ice, eventually on the body as well as the wings, that it was unable to reach its cruising altitude. When the pilots tried to take it higher, it initially descended and briefly leveled off. It was then that it experienced what the AAIB referenced with its description “upset”.

According to the official report, the plane rolled left by 32 degrees and the autopilot switched itself off. The plane rolled right again, this time by 38 degrees. At the same time, the nose of the plane was moving up and down, between a 73 degrees incline and a 16 degree dip. The co-pilot transmitted a Mayday call and the crew turned back to Guernsey Airport, where they landed safely.

After a technical inspection, no problems were found with the craft and it was released back onto the fleet for its next scheduled flight.


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Other events that occured in December

French fishing boats prepare to invade 1st
Two cargo ships collide on their way to Guernsey 2nd
Guernseyman Herbert Le Patourel wrongly thought killed 3rd
A Guernsey funeral takes place in Cornwall 4th
Guernsey steamship SS Rossgull is wrecked 5th
The Guernsey Tapestry is completed 6th
Air UK Fokker overshoots Guernsey runway 7th
Naftel’s paintings go on display 8th
Guernsey and Jersey newspapers agree to merge 9th
Sark holds its first election 10th
Beau Sejour opens for business 11th
Victor Hugo flees France and Napoleon 12th
Explorer Edmund Kennedy is speared to death 13th
Author Mary Ann Shaffer is born
Herm bribery case comes to court 14th
Alderney’s evacuees return to their island 15th
Guillaume de Beauvoir appointed dean of English Church in Geneva 16th
Castle Cornet surrenders to Guernsey 17th
Telex, phones and telegram cables go quiet 18th
Guernsey shipwreck results in starvation 19th
Channel Islands Securities Exchange founded 20th
G-COBO has a bumpy flight 21st
Guernsey struck by an earthquake 22nd
William Hedley Cliff buys Jethou 23rd
Wombles author Liza Beresford dies 24th
Asterix is discovered in St Peter Port harbour 25th
Guille and Alles lease the Assembly Rooms 26th
The Red Cross saves Guernsey from starvation 27th
Operation Hardtack targets the Channel Islands 28th
Ebenezer Le Page author GB Edwards dies 29th
Castle Cornet is struck by lightning 30th
Guernsey Police makes the world’s first underwater arrest 31st