Wizz Air flight forced to abort Doncaster Airport take-off because of insect

A Wizz Air flight from Doncaster Airport was forced to abandon take off – after an insect laid eggs inside a vital piece of cockpit equipment.

Monday, 23rd November 2020, 6:43 pm

The Airbus was thundering along the runway at 140mph when the plane’s speed sensor failed.

The pilots were forced to screech to a halt when indicators on the flightdeck flickered out.

A probe later revealed that three tiny eggs, each the size of a grain of rice, were lodged inside the sensor which measures air velocity to calculate speed.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

A Wizz Air flight at Doncaster was forced to abort its take off.

The June 16 incident was the first time the Airbus A321 had flown for 12 weeks after being grounded due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The two pilots were preparing to fly the empty jet to London Stansted when they had to abort the take off.

A report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch said the aircraft had been parked on 'a remote stand' at Doncaste since March 25.

The jet was left in a 'flight ready' condition and had the covers on its speed sensors removed on June 15 in preparation for its transfer flight the next day.

Both pilots walked round the outside of the plane to carry out visual checks before they powered up the engines and taxied into a holding area before take off.

The airspeed indicator at first showed their speed increasing as they accelerated down the runway before it suddenly failed and indicated a speed of zero.

The commander, who had been looking at a number of birds on the take off path, noticed the failure when he glanced back at his instrument panel.

The first officer brought the plane to a halt just as it was about to reach its V1 speed, when it was past the point of no return.

A second attempt to take off was also abandoned at a lower speed when the same problem occurred again, the report disclosed.

The larvae were found when the system was flushed and they were thrown away, meaning that the type of insect could not be identified.

The report said: 'The operator concluded that the insect larvae may have been deposited in the pitot probe whilst it was parked with the pitot probe covers fitted.'

The report said: 'It is therefore possible that an insect could enter the air data system during prolonged parking.'

But investigators could not rule out that an insect got into the system the day before the flight when the covers were removed.

The report said that Wizz Air had since introduced a requirement to flush pressure lines before a flight if a plane has been parked up for more than three days.

It added: 'The operator is also looking to identify better pitot probe covers that may offer better protection than those currently used.'