The Boeing 737 flew too low for more than two minutes as it made a turn in the clouds on an autopilot, eight miles from the runway.
A “terrain” warning was given to warn pilots that they were flying too low before an automated safety system went into action and instructed them to “PULL UP PULL UP!”.
The captain, 57, and co-pilot trainee, 27, interrupted their approach before landing safely a few minutes later.
An investigation by French aviation regulator BEA revealed that the pilots lost “situational awareness” during the January 2015 incident.
The plane would have touched down in 40 seconds if it had continued to descend while the plane was falling at 900 feet per minute, the report said.
He said the crew chose to use an automated system to control the descent of their aircraft but that the co-pilot was on a “non-precision approach”.
This allows the pilot to follow a predetermined route to a minimum altitude – pilots are not allowed to descend below this minimum altitude unless they can see the runway.
But the co-pilot, who had only 400 hours of experience, had never done this before, according to the report, and the captain was unaware of this.
The report revealed that the pilot and co-pilot’s preparation for the landing attempt was “insufficiently precise and complete”.
He said, “This caused confusion on the part of the captain on the horizontal route that was actually taken by the aircraft.
“This state of confusion led him to call for the premature descent of the aircraft, below the minimum safe altitude. ”
The investigation revealed that the standard instrument landing system was out of service at the airport and the pilot-in-command did not use the more precise satellite navigation equipment during the approach.
Following the incident, Ryanair changed its operating procedures and instructed the pilots not to use similar “non-precision” approaches during autopilot.