An easyJet flight from Edinburgh carrying 157 passengers plunged from its expected height as it descended over France to fly ‘dangerously low’ over Lake Geneva on its approach to land, it has been revealed.
An inquiry in Switzerland has described it as “a serious incident”.
The flight, which took place on November 5, 2023, descended to only 230 metres over the lake while still 12 kilometres out from Geneva - more than 457 metres too low. It was reported to be at risk of crashing into the lake within a minute if it had continued to descend.
On noticing the aircraft’s dangerous approach, Geneva air traffic controllers warned the easyJet pilots to “check your altitude immediately!”, at which they throttled up to regain altitude.
The aircraft landed safely on its second approach.
The Swiss Safety Investigation Service (SESE) launched an investigation into the incident on January 16. So far it has given no explanation as to why the aircraft was so low.
Following the incident, easyJet, which has never crashed, suspended the pilots involved pending an internal investigation, as is its policy. They are reportedly flying again.
The aircraft’s automatic systems warned the pilots that they were too low at the same time as the Geneva control tower, which would suggest a human error on the part of the pilots.
'I don't know what happened in the cockpit that day, but that’s where they will find the explanation,' one Airbus A320 pilot told the Tribune de Genève.
Another expert suggested that the aircraft’s route across the Jura mountains and down over the lake requires a rapid descent, which in this case was too rapid.
“The control tower instructed the aircraft to follow one of the shortest approaches, which runs between Gland and Rolle,” he told Swiss newspaper Blick.
In a statement to MailOnline, easyJet said: “We are fully supporting the investigation in line with procedures. At no point was the safety of those onboard compromised.
“The safety and wellbeing of passengers and crew is always easyJet's highest priority”.