Air Berlin pilot investigated for buzzing control tower in ‘goodbye’ to bankrupt airline
German authorities are investigating if mistakes were made by air traffic controllers at Duesseldorf Airport after an Air Berlin pilot aborted his landing at the last moment to make a low pass around the control tower.
The dpa news agency reported Thursday that controllers were being questioned and voice recordings between them and the Airbus A330, which was on a return trip Monday from Miami, are being evaluated.
German media said the manoeuvre was the pilot’s unique way of saying “goodbye” to his passengers and the bankrupt airline, as it was Air Berlin’s last long-haul flight to its hub in Dusseldorf.
Reuters reported that the two pilots had been suspended from flight duties as the intentional “lap of honour” was investigated.
Germany’s Federal Aviation Office tells the Associated Press they’re still looking into the incident but that it’s not unusual for pilots to abort landings when necessary.
Air Berlin, which has struggled to turn a profit over the last decade, filed for insolvency on Aug. 15, and a government loan has kept its planes aloft while its administrator negotiated with prospective buyers for parts of the business, with German flagship carrier Lufthansa signing a deal last week to buy large parts of Air Berlin for $247 million.
— With files from Reuters
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