Manchester EasyJet flight carrying 167 was ONE SECOND from disaster after pilots misjudged runway's length by a mile

AN EASYJET flight carrying 167 passengers to the UK was left a SECOND from disaster when pilots misjudged the length of the runway by a mile on take-off.

The Airbus A320 aircraft bound for Manchester skimmed a perimeter fence at Lisbon airport by just 35 feet after pre-flight checks were botched, an investigation revealed.

The 142 tonne jet got airborne with just 361ft of tarmac left after the crew noticed red warning lights marking the end of the runway before realising their error.

Experts calculated that the aircraft was just 1.3 seconds from running out of road when its wheels left the ground.

A report by the UK’s Air Accidents Investigations Branch into the blunder on September 16 last year said: "This could have caused significant damage to the aircraft and its occupants.”

The pilots were said to have carried out calculations for runway 21 at the airport which were mistakenly based on its full length, the report revealed yesterday.

They should have used measurements from the intersection on the runway which they used – a difference of nearly a mile.

That left the aircraft without enough runway to ensure a safe take-off when it was cleared to depart by Lisbon air traffic control – who were unaware of the cock-up.

Pilots noticed something wrong as soon as they saw the red and white alternate lights as the plane roared along the last 3,000 feet of runway, according to the report.

The pilots didn't apply enough thrust to take off immediately.

The jet’s undercarriage cleared the fence at the end of the runway by just 35ft when it should have been hundreds of feet higher.

Both pilots were "interrupted numerous times during the pre‑flight preparation", which the report says contributed to their mistakes.

It was revealed to be the third similar incident at Lisbon Airport last year after two others in April and May.

Runway labelling has now been changed and the system of taking off from different positions along the tarmac has been scrapped.

An easyJet spokesperson said: "The pilots followed normal procedures for take-off and the flight took off without incident.

"The safety of our passengers and crew is always our highest priority and we will always take action to ensure we maintain the highest standards of safety.

"We continue to work with industry partners to review possible technical developments, including software updates referenced in the report that we have already taken action on, to help prevent a recurrence of these types of events."

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