Saturday's Near-Crash in Hamburg 24-Year-Old Co-Pilot Made First Landing Attempt

A young co-pilot steered the Airbus A320 that almost crashed on Saturday while trying to land in heavy wind. The more experienced 39-year-old pilot then took over to abort the landing and take off again.

The Lufthansa Airbus A320 that almost crashed while trying to land at Hamburg airport in heavy wind was being steered by the 24-year-old female co-pilot, named only as Maxi J., according to a spokesman for the German Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Investigation.

The subsequent maneuver in which the landing was aborted and the plane quickly took off again for a second attempt was conducted by the more experienced 39-year-old pilot, Oliver A.

It's still unclear why the pilot allowed his less experienced colleague to land the plane during the storm. It's not unusual for pilot and co-pilot to swap roles on commercial flights. Usually one of the pilots steers the plane and the other handles communications.

Co-pilots are subject to the same training standards as captains and have to be able to perform the same tasks. A Lufthansa spokesman declined to comment, saying the investigation into the incident was still taking place.

The jet with 131 passengers on board was caught by a gust of wind as it came in to land in pouring rain during a heavy storm on Saturday. It tipped and swerved precariously and one of its wings scraped the runway before it took off again. The incident was captured on video.

Lufthansa said none of the passengers was hurt.

Pilots' association Cockpit said neither the pilots, air traffic control or Hamburg airport could be blamed for the near crash. "From what is currently known I see no one who is to blame," said cockpit spokesman Markus Kirschneck.


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