Amputee pilot crash-landed plane near York after prosthetic device detached from controls

A Jodel D117 aircraft. Photograph: Ian Kirk / Wikipedia
17 Apr 2020 @ 5.38 pm
| News

An amputee pilot crash landed near York when his homemade prosthetic device disconnected from the controls of his light aircraft.

The 69-year-old escaped unhurt from the incident but his plane was damaged, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said.

The pilot, who has not been named, is a left forearm amputee.

He was operating the Jodel D117A plane’s control column – used to alter the angle of flight – with a carbon fibre tube connected to the prosthesis on his arm.

As he was approaching landing at Full Sutton Airfield on April 8 last year, the device became separated from the stick, causing the plane’s nose to dip.

This led to a heavy landing, damaging the propeller and engine cover.

Added a Velcro strip

The prosthetic device attached to the plane’s controls. Photograph: AAIB report

The AAIB report did not conclude why the prosthetic adaptor became disconnected from the control column, but it did note that the pilot, a doctor in prosthetic rehabilitation, designed it so it had no mechanical connection to secure it to the stick.

This was because he wanted to make it simple for rescue personnel to detach in the event of an emergency.

Investigators said his approach was to “modify the person rather than the aircraft”.

Full Sutton Airfield. Photograph © Google Street View

Following the accident, the pilot added a Velcro strip to make the connection more secure.

The AAIB found he met the requirements for medical fitness to fly but there was no engineering assessment of the tube by a suitably qualified person.

The Civil Aviation Authority has responded by toughening the rules relating to the issuing of medical certificates for pilots with disabilities affecting joints, bones and muscles.