A PLANE dived nearly 1500ft in less than a minute above a Scottish airport without pilots noticing, an investigation has found.

The passenger plane was attempting to make a delayed landing at Aberdeen International Airport on September 11, 2021 when it rapidly descended towards the ground.

The Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB), which conducted the probe, found that pilots on the Boeing 737 did not realise the plane was falling.

The aircraft was carrying 67 passengers and six crew members.

AAIB found the issue was due to a high workload during a “go-around" procedure.

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In the aviation industry, a go-around is an aborted landing of an aircraft that is on final approach because of an obstacle on the runway or a loss of stability, among other reasons.

The plane was instructed to ascend instead of landing after a search-and-rescue helicopter take-off was prioritised by air traffic control.

The flight climbed to around 3000ft above sea level before falling to 1780ft above sea level in just 57 seconds.

Air traffic control immediately radioed the pilots to bring the “serious incident” to their attention, after which the plane began to ascend again.

As well as high workloads playing an issue, pilots are understood to have gone “significant periods” without flying due to coronavirus restrictions.

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While the commander of the plane had flown 10 flights during the previous month, the co-pilot had flown just four in nearly 11 months.

The flight crew used simulators during the pandemic to help with a lack of flying but AAIB said it can be difficult to replicate real-world, high workload situations for pilots.

Aberdeen’s air traffic control said it has now changed its procedures for aircraft being broken off from the approach, while Boeing issued guidance to pilots about the behaviour of the autopilot system and autothrottle during go-arounds.

The investigation found appropriate action was taken following the incident by the flight operator and manufacturer, as well as Aberdeen Airport’s air traffic control team, to ensure the incident does not happen again.