Air Berlin Pilots Investigated After Performing Risky Farewell Maneuver

An airplane of the German airline 'Air Berlin' is prepared to lift off at the Tegel airport in Berlin on Oct. 12, 2017.Michael Sohn / AP

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/ Source: Reuters

BERLIN — The pilots of an Air Berlin flight that performed a fly-past during the insolvent carrier's last long-haul flight to its hub in Dusseldorf have been suspended, the airline said on Wednesday.

When coming into land from Miami on Monday morning, the A330 jet flew low across the runway, then pulled up and banked sharply to the left before landing on its second approach.

Pilots are trained in such "go-around" procedures for aborted landings, but the maneuver was unusual and the German aviation authorities are investigating.

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"In aviation, safety always comes first. We are taking the incident very seriously," an Air Berlin spokesman said.

The Air Berlin pilot had requested permission from the tower to make a left turn should a go-around be necessary.

"We wanted to make a mark, a dignified and emotional goodbye," the Air Berlin pilot was quoted as saying by German broadcaster ZDF. His identity was not given.

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Another pilot for a different carrier told Reuters that a go-around should be performed only for operational or safety reasons. "Electing to do one if it is known not to be required adds an unnecessary risk," he said.

Several videos of the incident can be viewed online. In one, control tower staff can be heard exclaiming as the plane flies past, with one person saying: "We are all in awe."

The Air Berlin spokesman said the videos raised questions that had to be answered as part of the investigation.

Air Berlin filed for insolvency on Aug. 15 and Lufthansa has signed a deal to buy large parts of its operations.

The airline will fly its final short-haul flights under the Air Berlin brand at the end of this month.