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RYANSCARE; Probe as weather-diverted plane flies at just 454 feet.

Byline: PAT FLYNN

A RYANAIR flight missed air traffic control instructions and flew at just 454ft, a damning report has revealed.

The jet travelling from Germany to Italy also found itself in conflict with other traffic.

It eventually diverted and landed on the wrong side of the country.

The findings by the Italian National Agency for Aviation Safety were part of an investigation into a "serious incident" on September 7, 2005, which was only reported to Italian aviation authorities by Ireland's Air Accident Investigation Unit four months later.

As a result the probe was mainly conducted using radar recordings because data from the cockpit voice recorders and flight recorders were no longer available.

The information they required had already been overwritten when the recorders were removed from the aeroplane on September 9. Ryanair flight FR-9672 from Niederrhein airport near Dusseldorf to Rome's Ciampino Airport had 166 passengers at the time of the incident.

The crew lost situational awareness after they had first aban-doned their approach to Ciampino and decided to divert to Fiumicino Airport, also in Rome, due to adverse weather.

They later aborted an approach to Fiumicino and diverted to Pescara on the Adriatic coast.

The report claimed the crew missed air traffic control instructions and descended below assigned altitudes. At one point, it was allegedly around 454ft above the ground, some "900ft below approach profile".

The report cited "the incorrect operation and conduct of the flight by the flight crew, in adverse weather, and the unplanned and unbriefed diversion to Rome's Fiumicino Airport" as the main causes of the incident. Its list of contributing factors included the "captain's state of mind".

The report revealed he lost his only son three months before after a long illness.

However, the investigation also determined air traffic control was also partly to blame for the incident.

It blamed "inappropriate information provided by air traffic control in non-standard language and the absence of a minimum safe altitude warning on the approach radar of Rome's air traffic control".

In 2006, Ryanair said it had carried out an internal review of the incident and it notified the Air Accident Investigation Unit and the Irish Aviation Authority.

But it said it "screwed up" by not sending them a final draft of the report.

This meant a delay in telling officials in Italy and the most critical date not being available to them.

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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jun 1, 2009
Words:402
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