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.
– 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.
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.