Flybe flight nose-dived 500ft in 18 seconds after autopilot error caused plane to aim for the ground

Some 44 passengers and four crew were on-board the flight from Belfast City Airport to Glasgow when the plane nose-dived 500ft in 18 seconds shortly after take-off on January 11.
 A Flybe flight nearly ended in disaster after autopilot was accidentally set to ZERO feet, an investigation found
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A Flybe flight nearly ended in disaster after autopilot was accidentally set to ZERO feet, an investigation found
A report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said that the autopilot was engaged when the Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 turboprop plane reached an altitude of 1,350 feet.
The aircraft continued to climb to 1,500ft but then "pitched nose-down and then descended rapidly" because autopilot was mistakenly set with a target altitude of zero feet.
Cockpit alarms alerted the captain and first officer to what was happening.
They later reported they had "become visual with the ground".
 The plane fell nearly a thousand feet before crew were able to regain control
ALAMY
The plane fell nearly a thousand feet before crew were able to regain control
The captain disconnected autopilot and recovered the aircraft, having dramatically dropped to 928ft.
The maximum rate of descent of 4,300 feet per minute during the event suggests the aircraft may have hit the ground just a few seconds later if the crew had not intervened.
But luckily the flight was recovered and continued on to land safely at Glasgow airport.
The AAIB concluded that the crew's selection of a particular autopilot mode before take off led to the zero altitude target.
Autopilot systems are used to automatically control aircraft.
Flybe has taken several safety measures in response to the incident, including revisions to simulator training and amendments to pilots' pre-take off checklists.