Two accidental taps on the screen of a tablet on an Embraer E195-E2 almost caused an accident on September 12, 2021 at Brandenburg Airport, in Berlin, Germany.
The KLM Cityhopper aircraft was preparing to take off for Amsterdam when the pilots entered the wrong intersection of runway 25R into an “Electronic Flight Bag” tablet, which uses ePerf software for flight calculations.
The touch screen has an interface in which the list of intersections are displayed very close to each other and both pilots ended up clicking on the “L5” intersection instead of “K5”, at the end of the runway.
The “L5” intersection, in turn, is 1,320 meters ahead and it was from this position that the E195-E2 departed.
The wrong insertion, however, also affected the aircraft’s performance calculation for takeoff, which became slower, with reduced flaps and VR (rotation speed) of 140 knots instead of 121 knots, as would be correct.
Even with less runway available and less powerful acceleration, the Embraer jet was able to take off just 144 meters from the end of the runway.
Neither the crew nor the 92 passengers suffered any injuries and the aircraft did not suffer any damage, but the case drew attention due to the risk of being repeated.
Details of the episode were revealed by the Dutch Safety Board in a recently published report.
‘Fat finger’ problem
According to the entity, “the aircraft would likely not have been able to safely abort the takeoff at speeds close to V1. Safety margins were reduced during the takeoff”.
For the Dutch authority, the software lacks visual feedback about the location of the finger and the problem of “fat finger”, when a nearby item is pressed by mistake.
“The confidence of the crew in the calculated values by the performance calculation application may also have been a contributing factor to the occurrence,” the report added.
Embraer told Flight Global that it will update the resource in 2024 to provide a graphical representation and introduce a two-step process to separate the selection of runways and intersections.