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B733, vicinity Belfast Aldergrove UK, 2006

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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 July 2006
Actual or Potential
Event Type
Human Factors, Loss of Control, Runway Incursion
Day/Night Day
Flight Conditions VMC
Flight Details
Aircraft BOEING 737-300
Operator Futura International Airways
Domicile Spain
Type of Flight Public Transport (Passenger)
Origin Liverpool John Lennon Airport
Intended Destination Belfast International Airport
Actual Destination Belfast International Airport
Take off Commenced Yes
Flight Airborne Yes
Flight Completed Yes
Flight Phase Descent
Location - Airport
Airport vicinity Belfast International Airport
Tag(s) Approach not stabilised,
Non Precision Approach
Tag(s) Ineffective Monitoring,
Procedural non compliance,
Spatial Disorientation,
Tag(s) Flight Management Error,
Flight Control Error"Flight Control Error" is not in the list (Airframe Structural Failure, Significant Systems or Systems Control Failure, Degraded flight instrument display, Uncommanded AP disconnect, AP Status Awareness, Non-normal FBW flight control status, Loss of Engine Power, Flight Management Error, Environmental Factors, Bird or Animal Strike, ...) of allowed values for the "LOC" property.
Tag(s) Wrong Runway"Wrong Runway" is not in the list (ATC error, Accepted ATC Clearance not followed, Incursion pre Take off, Incursion after Landing, Runway Crossing, Intersecting Runways, Intersecting extended centrelines, Towed aircraft involved, Near Miss, Ground Collision, ...) of allowed values for the "RI" property.
Damage or injury No
Causal Factor Group(s)
Group(s) Aircraft Operation
Safety Recommendation(s)
Group(s) None Made
Investigation Type
Type Independent


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.


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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