Controller alerts Air Canada flight after it descends too low too soon in New York landing
Published on Friday December 14, 2012 Share on twitter Share on facebook MARK BLINCH/REUTERS The airline has launched an internal probe into the Nov. 27 incident involving Air Canada Flight 748. Bruce Campion-Smith Ottawa Bureau chief
OTTAWA—An air traffic controller had to alert the pilots of an Air Canada flight after they descended too low during a bad weather approach to New York’s La Guardia airport.
The airline has launched an internal probe into the Nov. 27 incident involving Air Canada Flight 748, which happened as the twin-engine Embraer 170 jet was arriving from Montreal.
The pilots were using electronic aids to guide the aircraft through the low clouds, rain and late-day darkness to a landing on Runway 4 and had been told by air traffic control not to descend below 520 metres until passing an approach fix.
But with autopilot engaged for the approach, the Embraer jet started down to the runway too soon, busting the altitude restriction issued by the controller, according to a preliminary report prepared by Transport Canada.
The jet — still enveloped in cloud — continued down and was just 300 metres above the borough of Queens when the controller sounded the alarm about the premature descent.
“The aircraft was one mile outside the (fix) when it reached 1,000 ft. and (air traffic control) issued an Altitude Alert,” the report said.
The pilots quickly aborted their faulty approach, circled around and made a successful landing at the busy airport on their second try.
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada conducted a preliminary investigation into the incident but has handed the file over to the airline to pursue internally, a spokesperson said Thursday.
Airline spokeswoman Isabelle Arthur said the controller told the crew that there “appeared to be a discrepancy with the aircraft altitude indication.”
“As per operating procedures the crew did a go around and landed without incident,” Arthur told the Star in an email. “These types of events are extremely isolated and we always conduct internal reviews to ensure we maintain the highest levels of safety standards and operations.”
Arthur did not say whether the discrepancy had been attributed to human error or a mechanical problem.
Last edited by Squawk7777; 14th Dec 2012 at 16:24.
Landing at Dallas one day in an MD80 noticed the DME vs full down glide slope didn't make sense with FO flying so told him to level off. Soon after level off we were advised of a low altitude alert by controller. We were in the clouds around 1500 ft AGL. DFW ceiling was reported at 1,000 ft. A B747 was stopped next to the GS antenna causing the problem but tower said they didn't have to protect the sterile approach area until the ceiling got below 800 ft. Isn't that nice? The GS suddenly popped to full up so beware.
In any approach there is a "path" component and a height vs. distance component. We all know the formula that checks altitude against distance, and many who fly (I'm retired) have a glass map that shows the runway.
Why do crews (in general...we don't know yet what happened here), sometimes slavishly follow the glideslope indication and bust the FAF altitude and even minimums? Seen it in the data due to a stuck GS indication...near CFIT.
Avoiding the hindsight bias trap, what makes sense to a crew such that they continue a descent below the altitude-vs-distance checks, and why does it make sense at the time?
Three things...No 1: This is a non-issue....No 2: "Automation seems to always come into the conversation when discussing these issues, and 3: A previous poster hit it on the head....A Canadian Newspaper from an area in Canada where (god forbid) French is widely spoken...
Simple Answer...if able, fly the A/C, don't let the Autopilot Do It!!! And if not able, go to Roadmaster and drive a truck...
"Three things...No 1: This is a non-issue...." You don't say what you mean by "non-issue."
The event itself is serious. The intent of an internal (airline, not Transport Canada) investigation under SMS is to find out why the event occurred and make changes where indicated. If the airplane performed incorrectly the reasons will be discovered and communicated to the appropriate parties so the problem can be addressed. If the crew performed incorrectly, that will be discovered and a review of procedures, of the SOPs carried out on the subject flight, and perhaps some training will take place if mistakes were made and then they'll be returned to the line. That's what I would call a "non-issue", and that's how it's done under SMS.
"No 2: "Automation seems to always come into the conversation when discussing these issues," and
"Automation" has not been discussed in this thread.
"3: A previous poster hit it on the head....A Canadian Newspaper from an area in Canada where (god forbid) French is widely spoken..." French is widely spoken in Quebec and much less so throughout Canada although there are many French-immersion schools across the country. You should learn a bit about your neighbour to your north
bubbers, I think something else was going on. The entire GP reflection area is pretty much off limits, i.e. no roads, taxiways etc (though I've seen, and immensely disliked, access roads on the runway shoulder). If you walk in front of the GP, you're enough of a disturbance to trip the near-field monitor (located a short distance towards the threshold) and turn lights red in the tower (not a good way to make friends), so something doesn't quite add upp in their 747 story.
I wonder what they do with those new taxiways going around the runway end. If they cross in front of the GP, an aircraft there should cause a disturbance. There are probably restrictions in place.
Edit: Oh, Dallas... yeah, plenty of places to put a 747 in front of the GP there. There should be restrictions in place.