Search Results for: the stabilized approach

The Stabilized Approach.

For several years the highest percentage of incidents and accidents has occurred during the approach and landing phases. According to a Flight Safety Foundation study, 46 percent of the 250 worldwide accidents of the period 2002-2011 happened during approach, landing or go-around.

Although operators can specify different minimums criteria for deciding to continue the approach or execute a go-around, on their Approach and Landing Accident Reduction (ALAR) Briefing Note 7-1, the FSF suggests that the approach must be stabilized 1000ft. AGL on IMC and 500ft AGL on VMC. An approach is considered stabilized when:

• The aircraft is on the correct flight path.
• Only small changes on heading and pitch are necessary to maintain the correct flight path.
• The airspeed is not more than VREF + 20 IAS and not less than VREF.
• The aircraft is on the landing configuration.
• Sink rate is not more than 1000ft/min. If an approach requires a sink rate of more than 1000ft/min, should be noted on the approach briefing.
• Power/Thrust is appropriate for the actual aircraft configuration and not below the minimum required for the approach according to the AOM.
• Approach briefing and all necessary checklists have been conducted.
• Specific type of approaches are stabilized if they also fulfill the following
• ILS approaches should be flown within one dot of the localizer and glide slope.
• A category II or III approach must be flown within the expanded localizer band.
• During a Circling Approach wings should be level on final when the aircraft reaches 300ft above airport elevation.
• Unique approach conditions or abnormal conditions requiring a deviation from the above elements of a stabilized approach require a special briefing.

Stabilised Approach Gates

Stabilized Approach “Gates”

If anyone of these elements are not met by 1000ft above airport elevation on IMC or 500ft above airport elevation on VMC, requires and immediate GO-AROUND.

Contributing factors to create an unstabilised approach can be adverse weather, being placed by ATC in an uncomfortable position for the approach, runway illusions during a night approach with no vertical guidance, being high or too close to the runway during a circling maneuver.

Continuation of an unstabilized approach can lead to several situations like; cross the runway threshold too fast and/or too high, not be aligned with the runway centerline, leading to land long on the existing runway, or a runway excursion.

Build your own defenses; adhere strictly to SOP’s and if for some reason not listed here you don’t feel comfortable with the approach execute a go-around, prepare for a new approach and start again. Don’t allow anyone to rush you.
Happy Landings!!


Capt. Ivan

Recommended Reading:

FAA – Mitigating the Risks of a Runway Overrun.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has released last Thursday an advisory circular directed to point the necessity of focused training of flight crews to prevent runway overrun events.

Information gathered by the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reveals that runway overruns during the landing phase of flight account for approximately 10 incidents or accidents every year with varying degrees of severity, with many accidents resulting in fatalities. The NTSB also concludes that because of the dynamics of a tailwind approach and landing, particularly on wet or contaminated runways, the FAA should provide current and comprehensive guidance regarding the risks associated with tailwind landings and raise awareness of the reduced margins of safety during tailwind landing operations.

The agency recommends the elaboration of strategies focused on training and testing of flightcrews, combined with training based scenarios as tools to prevent runway overrun events. Emphasis on training and checking during initial pilot certification, recurrent training and checking events must not merely be an academic event, but must be practical in order to increase a pilot’s recognition of a higher risk landing operation.

Operators are responsible for developing training programs, SOPs, and complying with all of the regulatory requirements for the flight. All pilots are responsible for knowing the operational conditions they will be encountering and being able to assess the impact of environmental situations on the airplane’s landing distance. This responsibility includes following company SOPs and/or industry best practices and exercising the highest level of aeronautical decision making (ADM) to ensure the safety of the flight.

– FAA Advisory Circular AC91-79A – Mitigating the Risks of a Runway Overrun Upon Landing.

Capt. Ivan

Related Post:
– The Stabilized Approach.



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FAA – UPS Crash, as Usual the Pilots are To Blame.

FAA accident investigators determined that a series of pilot’s errors and violations of safety procedures as the primary cause of the UPS Airbus A300-600 crash at Birmingham, AL (USA) on Aug 14th 2013. Both pilots died in the pre-dawn accident when the aircraft crashed a short distance from the Birmingham runway.

“Yes, the pilots flew the airplane into the ground, there’s no question,” said National Transportation Safety Board member Robert Sumwalt, a former airline pilot.
Although the NTSB did not blame UPS on its report, Sumwalt said the cargo operator also failed to take actions that could have prevented the crash.

The NTSB mentioned a series of pilot’s errors on its report:
– The captain failed to correctly program an aircraft computer, failed to monitor the plane’s altitude, didn’t relay important information to his co-pilot, and failed to abort the landing when it became apparent the plane was in trouble.
– The captain did not have a stabilized approach — meaning the plane’s speed, direction and descent were not within established standards
– The first officer, meanwhile, failed to communicate altitudes to the pilot as the plane approached Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport. In a conversation captured on the plane’s cockpit voice recorder, the co-pilot also confessed to being fatigued, evidently after failing to use her off-duty time to get appropriate rest.

Sumwalt also blamed the global cargo operator for not updating a software on a ground proximity warning system, which could have given the crew an earlier indication they were too close to the ground, he said.
“Based on the rate of descent of this particular aircraft, it would be impossible to determine whether a software upgrade would have made a difference,” Capt. Houston Mills, UPS director of airline safety, noted that the NTSB does not cite the software in its official finding.

Sumwalt said the cargo carrier also did not provide all of the available weather information to the pilots. As a result, the pilots likely expected to see the airport after descending below clouds at 1,000 feet, but didn’t clear the clouds until 350 feet.

“Everything UPS does is about efficiency. They have guys running around with clipboards and stopwatches to make sure if an airplane is a minute late, someone will be held accountable for it. But the sad thing here — this (technology) could have possibly prevented this accident.”
“If you’re interested in efficiency, I can guarantee you on August 14 of last year, those packages on the airplanes did not get delivered by 10:30 in the morning,” Sumwalt said.
UPS’ Mills acknowleged that known information about the cloud ceiling was not relayed to the pilots. But, he said, the pilots had been given a forecast that included a variable cloud ceiling, giving the pilots enough to plan and execute their approach.

The U.S. aviation industry has closely watched the UPS crash investigation largely because it highlights different FAA standards for commercial and cargo aircraft. In January of this year, the FAA required additional rest hours for commercial pilots, but it exempted cargo pilots.

Cargo pilots say rest rules should be uniform, regardless of the type of aircraft flown.
Wednesday, the NTSB concluded the pilots of Flight 1354 had been given an adequate opportunity to rest, even under the rule that applies to commercial pilots. The rule did not make a difference in this case, the board said.
UPS pilots complained of fatigue before fatal crash

Asked if the UPS culture encourages pilots to call in fatigued when they are tired, 91% “strongly disagreed” or “somewhat disagreed,” according to a survey conducted in March by the Independent Pilots Association, a union that represents UPS pilots.

“You probably have some bias in here as it was issued by a (union),” Sumwalt said. “But when you have 2,202 people responding to that, they are trying to tell you something.”
UPS spokesman Malcolm Berkley said the union was “politicizing” the investigation in an effort to change pilot work hours. UPS pilots typically work 70 hours a month — 30 in the air, Berkley said, less than the 55 hours the typical commercial pilot flies.

The safety board approved more than 20 recommendations, including one that board member Mark Rosekind called “ground-breaking” that would require warnings about flying fatigued during pre-flight briefings on overnight flights.

Capt. Ivan

Asiana Flight 214 Crash – NTSB Animation

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the flight crew’s mismanagement of the airplane’s descent during the visual approach, the pilot flying’s unintended deactivation of automatic airspeed control, the flight crew’s inadequate monitoring of airspeed, and the flight crew’s delayed execution of a go-around after they became aware that the airplane was below acceptable glidepath and airspeed tolerances. Contributing to the accident were; (1) the complexities of the autothrottle and autopilot flight director systems that were inadequately described in Boeing’s documentation and Asiana’s pilot training, which increased the likelihood of mode error; (2) the flight crew’s nonstandard communication and coordination regarding the use of the autothrottle and autopilot flight director systems; (3) the pilot flying’s inadequate training on the planning and executing of visual approaches; (4) the pilot monitoring/instructor pilot’s inadequate supervision of the pilot flying; and (5) flight crew fatigue which likely degraded their performance.

On July 6, 2013, about 1128 Pacific daylight time, a Boeing 777-200ER, Korean registration HL7742, operating as Asiana Airlines flight 214, was on approach to runway 28L when it struck a seawall at San Francisco International Airport (SFO), San Francisco, California. Three of the 291 passengers were fatally injured; 40 passengers, 8 of the 12 flight attendants, and 1 of the 4 flight crewmembers received serious injuries. The other 248 passengers, 4 flight attendants, and 3 flight crewmembers received minor injuries or were not injured. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces and a postcrash fire. Flight 214 was a regularly scheduled international passenger flight from Incheon International Airport, Seoul, Korea, operating under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 129. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed.

The flight was vectored for a visual approach to runway 28L and intercepted the final approach course about 14 nautical miles (nm) from the threshold at an altitude slightly above the desired 3° glidepath. This set the flight crew up for a straight-in visual approach; however, after the flight crew accepted an air traffic control instruction to maintain 180 knots to 5 nm from the runway, the flight crew mismanaged the airplane’s descent, which resulted in the airplane being well above the desired 3° glidepath when it reached the 5 nm point. The flight crew’s difficulty in managing the airplane’s descent continued as the approach continued. In an attempt to increase the airplane’s descent rate and capture the desired glidepath, the pilot flying (PF) selected an autopilot (A/P) mode (flight level change speed [FLCH SPD]) that instead resulted in the autoflight system initiating a climb because the airplane was below the selected altitude. The PF disconnected the A/P and moved the thrust levers to idle, which caused the autothrottle (A/T) to change to the HOLD mode, a mode in which the A/T does not control airspeed. The PF then pitched the airplane down and increased the descent rate. Neither the PF, the pilot monitoring (PM), nor the observer noted the change in A/T mode to HOLD.

As the airplane reached 500 ft above airport elevation, the point at which Asiana’s procedures dictated that the approach must be stabilized, the precision approach path indicator (PAPI) would have shown the flight crew that the airplane was slightly above the desired glidepath. Also, the airspeed, which had been decreasing rapidly, had just reached the proper approach speed of 137 knots. However, the thrust levers were still at idle, and the descent rate was about 1,200 ft per minute, well above the descent rate of about 700 fpm needed to maintain the desired glidepath; these were two indications that the approach was not stabilized. Based on these two indications, the flight crew should have determined that the approach was unstabilized and initiated a go-around, but they did not do so. As the approach continued, it became increasingly unstabilized as the airplane descended below the desired glidepath; the PAPI displayed three and then four red lights, indicating the continuing descent below the glidepath. The decreasing trend in airspeed continued, and about 200 ft, the flight crew became aware of the low airspeed and low path conditions but did not initiate a go-around until the airplane was below 100 ft, at which point the airplane did not have the performance capability to accomplish a go-around. The flight crew’s insufficient monitoring of airspeed indications during the approach resulted from expectancy, increased workload, fatigue, and automation reliance.

Public information from NTSB Docket DCA13MA120

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