B733, vicinity Belfast Aldergrove UK, 2006

Summary: 

On 18 July 2006, a Boeing 737-300 being operated by a Spanish Airline commenced a daylight non precision approach with a 12 degree offset FAT towards Belfast Aldergrove but then made an unstable descent to 200 feet agl towards an unlicensed runway at a different airport before being told by ATC radar to go around. A further also unstable approach to the correct airport/runway followed. The Investigation noted that there were multiple cues indicating that an approach to the wrong airport was being made and was not able to establish any reason why two successive unstable approaches were not discontinued

Event Details
When: 
18/07/2006
Event Type: 
Day/Night: 
Day
Flight Conditions: 
VMC

18805

Flight Details
Aircraft: 
Type of Flight: 
Public Transport (Passenger)
Intended Destination: 
Actual Destination: 
Take-off Commenced: 
Yes
Flight Airborne: 
Yes
Flight Completed: 
Yes
Phase of Flight: 
Descent
Location
Location - Airport
Airport: 
General
Tag(s): 
Approach not stabilised, Non Precision Approach
HF
Tag(s): 
Ineffective Monitoring, Procedural non compliance, Spatial Disorientation, Violation
LOC
Tag(s): 
Flight Management Error
Outcome
Damage or injury: 
Yes
Non-aircraft damage: 
Yes
Non-occupant Casualties: 
No
Off Airport Landing: 
Yes
Ditching: 
Yes
Causal Factor Group(s)
Group(s): 
Aircraft Operation
Safety Recommendation(s)
Group(s): 
None Made
Investigation Type
Type: 
Independent

Description

On 18 July 2006, a Boeing 737-300 being operated on a scheduled UK domestic service by Spanish Airline Futura International Airways for UK passenger airline Easyjet commenced a day VHF Omnidirectional Radio Range (VOR)/Distance Measuring Equipment (DME) approach procedure with a 12 degree offset FAT towards Runway 07 at Belfast Aldergrove in CAVOK conditions. After calling ‘Short Final’ it was cleared to land by the TWR Controller, but the APP radar controller then noticed that the aircraft appeared to be preparing to land at Langford Lodge, an unlicensed private airfield 3.5nm south west of the Runway 07 threshold at Aldergrove and alerted TWR who instructed the aircraft to climb, which was then observed. The subsequent visual manoeuvring to land at Aldergrove was characterised by unstable flight on very short finals just prior to an ultimately uneventful landing. No injuries or aircraft damage resulted from the event.

Investigation

An Investigation was carried out by the UK AAIB. Their Report found that “there were multiple cues to warn the crew that they were making an approach to the wrong airfield” and the break off from the approach to the wrong airport and noted that the minimum altitude shown on secondary radar before climb on instructions from ATC radar at the destination airport was approximately 200ft aal. In respect of the approach to the wrong airport, Langford Lodge, the Investigation noted the sustained high rate of descent which had been required to position for a planned touchdown 3.5nm earlier than the one envisaged by the non precision approach procedure being flown after reaching the intermediate procedure altitude of 2000ft. It also found in respect of the eventual approach to the correct airport/runway that “as the approach was clearly unstable, the crew would be expected to have carried out a further go-around.” It was also noted that the TWR controller, “who was observing the aircraft’s manoeuvres, had the authority to instruct the crew to go around if she considered that the aircraft was ‘dangerously positioned’ according to the definition in (the applicable UK Regulatory document)”. No Safety Recommendations were made.

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