The aircraft was inbound to land on Runway 27 at Sumburgh when the pilots discontinued the approach because of weather to the west of the airport. As the aircraft established on a southerly heading, it was struck by lightning. When the commander made nose-up pitch inputs the aircraft did not respond as he expected. After reaching 4,000 ft amsl the aircraft pitched to a minimum of 19° nose down and exceeded the applicable maximum operating speed (VMO) by 80 kt, with a peak descent rate of 9,500 ft/min. The aircraft started to climb after reaching a minimum height of 1,100 ft above sea level.
Recorded data showed that the autopilot had remained engaged, contrary to the pilots’ understanding, and the pilots’ nose-up pitch inputs were countered by the autopilot pitch trim function, which made a nose-down pitch trim input in order to regain the selected altitude.
Five Safety Recommendations are made relating to the design of the autopilot system and the certification requirements for autopilot systems.