E170, Frankfurt Germany, 2005


On 1 March 2005, an Embraer ERJ 170 inbound to Frankfurt was intentionally flown below the ILS Glideslope in good night visibility by the First Officer after disconnection of the Autopilot at approximately 340 feet agl in order to achieve an early turn off after touchdown as a means to catch up some of the delay to the flight. The result was impact with the approach lighting and touchdown before the beginning of the runway. Significant damage to the aircraft was found once it had reached the designated parking gate.

Event Details
Event Type: 
Flight Conditions: 


Flight Details
Type of Flight: 
Public Transport (Passenger)
Flight Origin: 
Intended Destination: 
Take-off Commenced: 
Flight Airborne: 
Flight Completed: 
Phase of Flight: 
Location - Airport
Approach Unstabilised after Gate-no GA, Copilot less than 500 hours on Type, PIC less than 500 hours in Command on Type
Into obstruction, Vertical navigation error, Undershoot on Landing
Manual Handling, Violation, Ineffective Monitoring - SIC as PF
Damage or injury: 
Aircraft damage: 
Non-aircraft damage: 
Non-occupant Casualties: 
Off Airport Landing: 
Causal Factor Group(s)
Aircraft Operation
Safety Recommendation(s)
None Made
Investigation Type


On 1 March 2005, an Embraer ERJ 170 being operated by Alitalia Express on a scheduled passenger flight from Milan Malpensa to Frankfurt was in collision with the approach lighting during the final stages of a night approach to Runway 25R at destination in good visibility and touched down before the start of the runway damaging or destroying 5 approach lights. It then exited the runway at the first available turnoff and taxied to the designated parking gate where damaged to the aircraft was discovered. There were no injuries to the 28 occupants. The flight had been running about 30 minutes behind schedule and was due to return to Milan the same evening.


An Investigation was carried out by the German Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Investigation, the Bundesstelle für Flugunfalluntersuchung (Germany) (BFU). The combined FDR and 2 hour CVR was removed from the aircraft but the CVR did not contain useful information because it had not been electrically isolated until almost 2 hours after the aircraft had arrived at the parking gate.

It was noted that the 48 year old-Captain had approximately 12000 hours total flying time which included 360 hours on the accident type. The 36 year old-First Officer was found to have 1800 hours total flying experience including 300 hours on the accident type.

It found that the PF for the ILS approach was the First Officer and that the Visual Meteorological Conditions (VMC) approach was normal until disconnection of the Autopilot at approximately 340 feet aal. From that point onwards, the aircraft was found to have been intentionally flown below the ILS GS in order to achieve a touchdown close to the start of the 4000 metre runway paved surface and thus minimise the landing roll to achieve an early turn off in order to turn off the runway via Taxiway ‘F’ because it led almost directly to the assigned parking gate. This turn off required a 90° right turn at 742 metres from the start of the paved surface and the reason for the crew being keen to do this was found to be the late running of the flight and a desire to minimise the effect of this on the knock on delay to the next scheduled flight.

It was found from FDR data that premature touchdown between the approach lights had occurred approximately 60 metres before the runway threshold. Significant damage to the aircraft was found in respect of the main landing gear, the underside of the fuselage underside and the right-hand flap”.

The Cause of the Accident was determined as “The airplane flew below the glide slope in order to attempt a short landing and, therefore collided with obstacles"

Two Contributory Factors were also identified as:

  • the pressure for time
  • the relative inexperience of the two pilots on the aircraft.

The Final Report of the Investigation was published in April 2007.

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