View Full Version : Mahan air impounded at Birmingham

two pints
23rd Feb 2006, 15:17
Anyone know anything about this? happened around lunchtime today, aircraft reported to have decended to below 600ft on an 8 mile final NDB approach for runway 33. 2 go arounds initiated by ATC - aircraft impounded on arrival.

23rd Feb 2006, 16:41
Notwithstanding the advisory heights and mandatory OCH limits on the RW33 NDB approach chart, I note the following for Birmingham from the AIP:

"An aircraft approaching without assistance from ILS or radar shall follow a descent path which will not result in its being at any time lower than the approach path which would be followed by an aircraft using the ILS glidepath."

23rd Feb 2006, 16:49
It sounds like a dive and drive approach to me.Why were they using the NDB when the LLZ approach is available?The unservicability of the full ILS seems to be going on forever.Who impounded the aircraft?

23rd Feb 2006, 16:53
This won`t be the first issue with Mahan Air as a few weeks back at Manchester when 24L was in use during runway repairs one was told to go around because he was well north of track during and VOR approach and on his second was was if anything worse and a lot lower making a huge track correction at about 3 miles out and I would estimate a good 300ft below glide path
I live at about 4 miles on the approach and have never seen anything as low as it was

Any comments from MAN ATC

Please note these are only my estimates but it did concern me at the time


23rd Feb 2006, 16:58
The Mahan Air website says that an A310 operates the Birmingham schedule.

23rd Feb 2006, 17:03
From the Beeb website here (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/west_midlands/4744614.stm)

Plane flies too low into airport
Inquiries have started after an aeroplane landing at Birmingham International Airport came in too low.
The passenger airliner is reported to have descended to 600ft (182m) six miles from the airport - experts said it should have been at 1,800ft.

National Air Traffic Services has confirmed the incident near Kenilworth, Warwickshire, happened on Thursday.

An airport spokeswoman said the aircraft and its flight data recorder were being held for investigation.

The Airbus A310 operated by Tehran-based airline Marhan, reportedly flew low over Honiley, near Kenilworth, as it begun its descent around midday.

A farmer in nearby Mere End rang the airport to say a plane had flown too low over his farm.

Reports say the pilot was alerted and told to climb, which he did before making a second attempt at landing.

23rd Feb 2006, 17:12
The point I was making was that, even if the crew were flying a non-precision approach involving a descent at the maximum rate allowed for in the procedure construction in order to level at MDA/H ("dive and drive"), such procedures are not permitted at Birmingham as they will involve a descent below the equivalent ILS Glideslope.

600 ft in an A310 over Honiley must have looked....interesting. Hope that was height, not altitude!

Well done to that ATC controller for saving a potential disaster.

23rd Feb 2006, 17:39
BEagle..... your point is correct but however quite academic. You simply do NOT fly an NDB approach like that in heavy jet.

This incident is reminiscent of 7T-VEE of Air Algerie at Coventry airport in 1994..... unfortunately back then ATC were not in a position to prevent them from crashing.

23rd Feb 2006, 17:47
and the Afghan Airlines B727 at LGW which crashed into a house when carrying out a low visibilty ILS approach on RW26.

23rd Feb 2006, 17:54
This airline i believe started with Russian equipment .I am sure that a dive and drive technique would have been sop in a Tupolev.One chart compiler shows minimum altitudes at various points along some non-precision approach charts(Dublin is a good example).From memory the note about not descending below the pseudo glideslope is not on the approach chart itself.These notes are usually put in for noise considerations and are found on the noise procedure pages.As for not doing dive and drive I can think of a number of airfields that only have an NDB and this technique is the only one available.

23rd Feb 2006, 18:04
Cannot think Manchester would be on that list otherwise they might get a bloody nose due the Pennines

Made me think! as it was not a very nice night when it had the go around with a quite thick layer of cloud at 1000`and no ILS and infact only about 30 mins after it happened all runway work was suspended for night due other aircraft not getting lights until quite late


Von Smallhausen
23rd Feb 2006, 18:33
Pure conjecture of course, but perhaps they had mistaken HON DME for IBM DME. :bored:

(For those unfamiliar with Birmingham: Honiley VOR is about 6nm from the runway 33 threshold and only just off the final approach course)

23rd Feb 2006, 18:51
Magplug, that might be the SOP in most airlines but, unless proscribed by the relevant aerodrome regulations requiring a notional glidepath technique, some heavy jet operators certainly do practise descents at up to the maximum assumed RoD of 400ft/nm from the FAF.

23rd Feb 2006, 20:16
Were they at 600 ft height or 600 ft altitude?

If any aircraft 'approaching MDA' commences a go-around, it may well go slightly below MDA. Which is not permitted unless visual criteria are met...

Hence the decision to go-around must be initiated before MDA so that the aircraft does not fly below MDA, whereas for a precision approach the DA is the last point at which the decision must be made and the loss of height converting to a go-around is allowed for. Thus if you fly a non-precision approach as though it was a precision approach, you must use a higher approach minimum than the non-precision MDA.

However, if you fly an increased RoD (not more than 400 ft/nm) where this is permitted, you will have time to level at MDA (but not go below) and then maintain this until either the MAP is reached or visual criteria are met.

23rd Feb 2006, 20:21
There is absolutely nothing wrong with making a dive and drive approach in a heavy - just plan accordingly by doing the maths ( MDA /Visual descent point intercept), make certain the approach is well briefed and understood and sit up straight and fly properly. I rather used to enjoy making them although they're now somewhat out of fashion. The usual eye witness account is on the BBC, he's quite certain that the pilot was alerted by a herd of stampeding cattle. Moo. Of course, for those unable to juggle the requirements, dive and drive can rapidly become an express ticket to a smoking hole.

23rd Feb 2006, 20:36
I have flown all the airbus family and I have never flown a non-precision approach using profile mode(this is what vnav is called on the A300/310) or the managed modes on the fbw fleets.On the 300 family you have to hand fly these type of approaches(apart from LLZ) as you use track/fpa.The A300 i used to fly had TWO RMI's one for vor and one for adf.The latter was tucked away in a dark corner of the instrument panel-an ergonomic nightmare.The fms was very basic,akin to a sinclair zx81 and the associated database was tiny.Certainly no room for arrival/instrument procedures.This incident definetly seems to be a dive and drive.Why weren't they using the LLZ?Only the gp is notammed u/s?BHX have been taking forever with their "improvements".As i said in an earlier post there are airfields(Tobago springs to mind) where you have an ndb and no dme.You have to dive and drive and this is done by A330s,B747s etc.In an ideal world you do fly a 3degree stabilised approach, but the world is not perfect and these type of approaches exist.If you can find them have a look at the non-precision approaches at some Iranian airports,they certainly do not adhere to the stabilised approach criteria.I am still interested who had the authority to impound the aircraft and which charts the crew were using and why BHX has managed to get away with this protracted work in progress for so long.
The UK AIP does not mention following a pseudo-glideslope profile and it has an OCH of 475 ft.It shows a profile that is "recommended" but not MANADATORY!

23rd Feb 2006, 21:11
cornwallis, as at least 2 of us have already quoted from the UK AIP, 'notional glidepath' techniques are indeed mandatory at Birmingham:

"An aircraft approaching without assistance from ILS or radar shall follow a descent path which will not result in its being at any time lower than the approach path which would be followed by an aircraft using the ILS glidepath."

23rd Feb 2006, 21:15
Have a look at the ndb procedure for 33 in the AIP.It has a table of "recommended" ranges /altitudes, your reference is on the noise page!!If you have never been to BHX when the ILS is working on 33,(it must be over a year by now)you follow what it says on your ndb chart.If the CAA dont put it on their approach charts what hope does somebody who is probably an infrequent visitor have?These restrictions are usually buried on the same page as advice on running apu's on stand.

23rd Feb 2006, 21:29
Several Points...

Magplug and others...

A non-precision approach is just what it says..."non-precision"...The whole idea is to descend safely to an altitude from which the runway can be seen and a safe landing accomplished...

After passing the FAF, basic instrument skills (no FMS, just time, speed, distance) apply...descend to MDA and fly the course until arriving at the MAP or the runway enviornment becomes visable. Land or go around as appropiate...

These approaches are in widespread use in Africa and the Mideast...any pilot flying in these regions knows the drill and can practice it, or they have no business in this business...

As for the quote re: "without radar assistance..." this a/c most likely was under ATC control during the approach...how else could ATC have mandated a "missed approach" thus "preventing a crash"?

23rd Feb 2006, 21:36
The later A300 and the 310 will not let you fly track/flight path angle with the autopilot engaged. This is the preferred mode for non-precision approaches.You can fly hdg or llz with vertical speed with it engaged but from memory and many sims, ndbs were done using trk/fpa and handflown .Hdg/vs were used for SRA and Loc B/C.The fbw types however can do all of this with the ap engaged.
I looked also at the BHX section of the AIP and found your quote in the noise section.I personally would not have flown an approach as this crew did,but until we here further we can all only speculate.
So they got low and went round-many years ago a BA 747 did a go-around from within a gamepark. What would we be saying about that?

two pints
23rd Feb 2006, 21:39
I think its fairly certain that the aircraft was trying to fly the localiser DME approach rather than an NDB precedure for 33,

It certainly brings to the surface Birminghams missing glide path - isn't it about time we got it back, surely a year without one is long enough,

Take this morning pre the incident, Runway in use changed from 33 to 15 and then back to 33 due to the low visibility, within the same hour, its not ideal by any means for pilots or controllers.

23rd Feb 2006, 21:56
I am still interested who had the authority to impound the aircraft
I assume that this is an AAIB accident inspector from what has been said in the news report. Inspectors have various powers under the Civil Aviation (Investigation of Air Accidents and Incidents) Regulations 1996. The Regulations can be found here (http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si1996/Uksi_19962798_en_1.htm)

24th Feb 2006, 07:11
Doesn't say if it was doing a precision or non-precision approach. OCH for non - precision is 475 (NDB) or 485 (SRA) or 415 (LLZ/DME)

Five Livers
24th Feb 2006, 07:30

Jepps for Birmingham NDB app.

Rwy 15, maintain alt 2500ft to D6.7, MDA 790

Rwy 33, maintain alt 2000ft to D5.1, MDA 800

[airfield elevation, 375ft]

A/P Disc
24th Feb 2006, 07:34
A Northworst B747 tried the same thing at Amsterdam
once. Flying at around 500' a couple of miles out.
Wasn't a big succes. The pilot thought it was allowed...

24th Feb 2006, 08:38
"An aircraft approaching without assistance from ILS or radar shall follow a descent path which will not result in its being at any time lower than the approach path which would be followed by an aircraft using the ILS glidepath."
So lemme see... The airport takes away the vertical profile guidance for the approach, but still requires the aircraft to follow vertical profile as if the glideslope were still radiating. And if an aircraft fails to follow the non-existent vertical profile guidance, we blame the aircraft.
I can see an excellent money-saving opportunity for airports here, and bleak years ahead for the manufacturers of UHF glideslope equipment. ;)

24th Feb 2006, 08:41
I assume that this is an AAIB accident inspector from what has been said in the news report. Inspectors have various powers under the Civil Aviation (Investigation of Air Accidents and Incidents) Regulations 1996. The Regulations can be found here (http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si1996/Uksi_19962798_en_1.htm)

The AAIB can also order the Responsible Person or a Constable to impound anything that they think they might need (such as FDRs, CVRs - or presumably whole aircraft) for an investigation, before they can arrive on the scene themselves. The Police can also detain anyone that they think might have carried out a criminal act, such as a breach of the Air Navigation Order.


24th Feb 2006, 09:41
Guam... Korean Air Crash

VOR/DME approach and the crew descended before passing the VOR instead of afterwards. All dead (i think)

Birmingham... HON VOR approx 6 miles from the airfield and not far off the centreline of 33. Aircraft on LOC/DME approach to 33 descends to around or below MDA 6 miles from the airfield. Sounds to me like someone was using the HON DME and not the LOC/DME. Another lucky escape.:ugh: :eek:

24th Feb 2006, 09:57
eyeinthesky..... Precisely...... another CFIT waiting to happen.

Amazing how many desk pilots there are here ready to tell us about what happens in darkest Africa, or what it says somewhere in the depths of the UK AIP. Aviation has far too many poorly qualified/unqualified commentators pointing at rulebooks. Between them and the accountants it's a wonder there are not more smokin' holes around the world.

24th Feb 2006, 10:54
Probably also worth noting that on the LLZ approach for 33 the descent from the platform altitude of 2000 feet doesn't even start until 5.1 miles. Looks like they must have started descending far too early.

Max Angle
24th Feb 2006, 11:37
Shame the aircraft is not equipped with EGPWS which would have forcefully registered it's displeasure at being so low, so far out. Mind you, perhaps it has got it and was being to told to "shut up". A great piece of kit that should stop this sort of thing happening, mandatory I think for JAA carriers now.

24th Feb 2006, 11:52
bookworm: I can't see from your profile if you're a professional pilot or not. I was. Both the LLZ/DME and the NDB/DME procedures for 33 at Birmingham have notes which state that DME is mandatory. There's a further note which states that the DME I-BM reads zero at D THR (displaced threshold). Therefore, in spite of the absence of the ILS glideslope, there is provision to follow a vertical profile.

24th Feb 2006, 12:04
For BEagle, please remember that the part of the Birmingham AIP entry you quote is from the noise abatement section. Not making too much noise is good practice. However making too much noise by not complying with the airports wishes in that regard is not in itself dangerous or illegal. It is perfectly possible to exceed noise requirements on a daily basis and simply factor the charges into the operating costs.

While the dive and drive is not considered best practice these days, it is not illegal and provided that the procedure requirements are complied with it is not dangerous.

I would indeed be looking at the poibility that HON dme was being used in error as a distance from threshold reference. Would be looking into what navigation aids were briefed, set and identified during the arrival and approach phases.



24th Feb 2006, 12:56
Are the crew and the aircraft still being held?DFC I totally agree with your post.Non-precision approaches started as cloud-break procedures,which allowed you to get visual contact with the airport and then complete a visual circuit to land.This is still normal practice at many airfields. Flying at low altitude is not conducive to your health but how many posters have done a circling approach in a heavy jet?The one at Sanford used to be done at 500ft .Very interesting during hurricane season!I once did a prof check with Airbus Training and had to fly a single-engine circling approach at 600ft.Dive and drive is not "best practice" but sometimes you are left with nothing else.

24th Feb 2006, 13:35
In answer to your question, ATI (subscription required) (http://www.rati.com) says this morning:
Although the aircraft was held at Birmingham Airport yesterday while flight data was extracted, the A310 was allowed to depart for Tehran at about midnight.

24th Feb 2006, 13:39
A circle to land is a visual procedure after an approach (manually flown or autopilot) the level segment is (depending on type) normally done with out final landing flap set is really no different to a visual circuit and not a big deal and usefull at places like Verona, Pisa, Chambrey even Dundee.

The important thing here is that they can't have been visual otherwise the picture would have looked very wrong, i gather that a frieght aircraft got down to 200ft agl at NEMA two weeks ago at about 5 miles out no EGPWS and configured for landing so only realised when the saw fields, but no airfield.

It can only be a matter of time before before one isn't spotted by some on the ball ATC bod


24th Feb 2006, 14:33
Guam... Korean Air Crash

VOR/DME approach and the crew descended before passing the VOR instead of afterwards. All dead (i think)

Yes... all dead. In the Guam incident, the G/S was out of service. Only the localizer was available utilizing the VOR in conjunction with the LOC Only Approach. Lack of situational awareness by KoreanCaptain who refused input from his Korean first officer regarding mistuned nav-aids and position.

24th Feb 2006, 15:04
BEagle, looks like your post has been picked up by good old Campbell Docherty in today's Brum post, who then wasted no time in trying to relate this issue to CVT's expansion, even though there is nothing to suggest an airprox here.

24th Feb 2006, 16:18
Perhaps some of you guys could enlighten me without me having to go find an AIP. Back in the old days (70s early 80s) we were taught to fly an NDB approach(no DME) by crossing the FAF at the prescribed height and then setting up a rate of descent, comensurate with time and distance that would enable you to reach the MAPt a little before your time expired. The safe height calculated for an MAP took into account the height of all obstacles back as far as the FAF, so in THEORY you could make a dirty dive to the MAP height and fly at that height all the way to the MAP. Clearly that would not have been best practice so we used to set up an ROD of no more than 1000fpm to ensure you had time to level out at the MAP height before reaching the MAP. This situation pertained for some years before the perceived wisdom decreed that this level flying bit might be inherently dodgy especially with large jet aircraft with an in-built high inertia. So it was decided that one should still calculate the descent rate to get you down to the MAP in time, but on reaching the height, if nothing seen, lots of noise and away you went. I presume that is still so. My question really is about that safe height back to the FAF. Are you actually prohibited from flying level at MAP height. It would seem in theory you can, except at Birmingham otherwise why make the statement? Offers?

24th Feb 2006, 16:33
Gosh, yes, I see what you mean.
An Airbus A310, operated by Iranian passenger airline Mahan Air, was logged at 600ft - three times lower than required - above Warwickshire as it came into Birmingham International Airport at mid-day yesterday.
[:(Am I the only one who has a problem with "three times lower than required" when it surely should be "only one-third as high as required"? Hmm, maybe the latter doesn't sound dramatic enough.]
Opponents of the proposed increase in passenger operations at Coventry said it proved their fears were justified.
A spokeswoman for the Campaign Against Expansion at Coventry Airport said: "Do we have to see a near miss or potential disaster turn into reality before people realise our concerns are real and justified?
"This is an area that is also used by Thomsonfly jets using Coventry and an incident like this is even more likely to have turned into a disaster if the airport is allowed to expand its operations and more planes are in the sky more often." ...
(Full story here (http://icbirmingham.icnetwork.co.uk/birminghampost/news/tm_objectid=16742752%26method=full%26siteid=50002%26headline =seconds%2dfrom%2ddisaster-name_page.html))

24th Feb 2006, 16:40
When I learned to fly on instruments I was taught to get down to the MDA and then motor along to the MAP, hoping to spot the approach lights before the time was up. We didn't call that 'Dive and Drive,' but I guess it was the same thing.

Thinking later changed to the use of a stabilised 3 degree approach slope, just as on a precision approach. Figure out your groundspeed and apply an appropriate rate of descent (for example: G/S 120 knots, ROD 646 feet per minute for 3 degrees) to arrive at the VDP (Visual Descent Point) at the MDA. If you do not have the lights or the runway in sight at that VDP then you will not be able to make a stabilised approach to land, so that you might as well go around rather than hope to see something from over the threshold at the MDA. Of course it makes a big difference if you are in a Twin Otter at 80 knots or perhaps a jet doing double that, so that this is not a given for all situations.

What I usually do in practice is to hit the MDA just a bit short of the VDP so that the PNF can take a good long look for the lights. Too, if you are just a little bit off on your rate of descent it's much easier to cope with being a bit low on the slope compared to being a bit high. And, after all, this is a non-precision procedure.

We used to amuse ourselves holding at Lagos, Nigeria when the weather was bad and the VOR was the only approach aid available by watching for the next BAC 1-11 to come blasting out of the murk at nought feet. 'Stabilised Approach? No idea what you are talking about, mate!'

Of course another problem with 'dragging it in' is the way it can be very difficult to land the aircraft on the fixed distance markers. You will be very shallow as you come across the threshold. So it would be a case of 'Here he comes! There he goes!' with the occasional landing that would end in tears.

I became a convert to this newer way of doing things. Plus, as previously pointed out, it is now mandatory in many places.

24th Feb 2006, 17:30
MagplougYou simply do NOT fly an NDB approach like that in heavy jet.

Magploug, sorry, but you don't only fly NDB app with a C150! Most companies even fly it with all type of airplanes! That's why a company employs pilots, to get passengers/freight from A to B ! And an NDB app is a normal procedure for every pilot!

24th Feb 2006, 17:48
I think he meant 'that's not the WAY to fly an NDB approach in a heavy jet'. Most company SOPs that I know of require a continuous descent approach with a missed approach executed at MDA+50', so as not to descend below the MDA during the GA manoeuvre. Advisory altitudes after the final approach fix usually allow the descent to be judged (if published, if not - make them up yourself).

24th Feb 2006, 18:02
Perhaps I did not make myself clear in my previous post.

Following a notional glide path on a non-precision approach that remains at or above all step-down fixes is the best way to do it in a large aircraft. However, the approach procedure is designed to permit the aircraft to descend almost vertically to the MDA at the FAF or last step-down fix as appropriate and then fly level until the MAPT. That is legal and ensures the required obstacle clearance is maintained.

There is no legal or procedural requirement for an aircraft not to follow the "dive and drive" option at Birmingham.

The advice included in the noise abatement procedures for Birmingham to follow the notional glide path on a non-precision approach is a noise abatement procedure alone. If one reads the noise restrictions at Birmingham, one will see that the notional glide path applies not only to IFR flights but also to your average VFR flight in a C150.

So looking at this incident, there is not yet any evidence that the crew did not follow a notional glide-path and as such the discussion regarding those issues may be a red herring. The evidence available seems to indicate that if they did a notional glide path or dive and drive, they would still have ended up at MDA(MDH) 800 (475) when the DME they used said about 1nm.

Unfortunately, it seems possible that the DME that was used was HON.

It is an unfortunate co-incidence that BHX and HON are both to the left of the centerline and the NDB DME 33 final approach track is offset by 5deg from the centerline. Have a think about that and then what you would expect the LOC to be showing when on a 5deg offset.

Again it would be very intersting to find out what was briefed, what was tuned and what was identified. It would also be interesting to hear how ATC positioned the flight and what the approach clearance wording was.



24th Feb 2006, 18:06
Mmmmm - landed at about same time yesterday, I think I heard him on frequency. I don't know the details so I will not comment on the incident itself.

However BHX is once again only LLZ/DME on 33 due to a second winter of work in progress. Minima for us was 790 MDA - reported cloudbase about 500agl - so all a bit close really though we got in fine with a monitored approach - good vis under the cloud. Whilst surface wind favoured 33 it would have been acceptable for tailwind approach on 15 (fully serviceable) for medium size aircraft but a couple of large aircraft from distant climes would probably not have been keen for the tailwind and no doubt ATC would prefer not to chop and change.

24th Feb 2006, 18:27
BBC Midlands Today "One Minute from Disaster!". Guess its a slow news day? :hmm:

24th Feb 2006, 18:35
also, who said it was 600ft
doubt this farmer has experience in judging heights of low flying jets?
hope not anyway!

ltn and beyond
24th Feb 2006, 18:46
Bhx has been a LLZ/Dme app on Rwy33 this week, my guess is a perfect approach on the localiser but with Hon vor/dme tuned. The same that would have been used during the STAR for the south into Bhx.

Good planing to have the ILS off during the winter on the "perfered" runway.!!!!

24th Feb 2006, 20:43
BBC Midlands Today 'one minute disaster' retraced the 'footsteps' of the Mahan flight, brilliant shots even the approach onto runway 15.

Thought it was 33 they landed on!!

24th Feb 2006, 20:44
bookworm: I can't see from your profile if you're a professional pilot or not. I was. Both the LLZ/DME and the NDB/DME procedures for 33 at Birmingham have notes which state that DME is mandatory. There's a further note which states that the DME I-BM reads zero at D THR (displaced threshold). Therefore, in spite of the absence of the ILS glideslope, there is provision to follow a vertical profile.

Exactly George! So why bother with all this expensive "glideslope" stuff just to spare the pilot a bit of straightforward mental arithmetic?! Just stick in a DME -- Doesn't actually have to be zero-ranged to the threshold does it? We've all done trig after all -- and tell the pilots to get on with it. In fact why bother to have higher minima for such approaches, when you can get the same information from a DME as you'd get from a UHF glideslope...

24th Feb 2006, 20:48
Can anyone confirm it was a real Mahan plane?

Mahan wet-leased several A310s and other stuff like even one or two L1011s in the last months on longterm-basis due to capacity-shortages and to cover mx-times of their own fleet. (which mainly consists of A300s from 1974-1983).

It might have been an A310 of Saga Airlines (Turkey) that operates for them frequently in the moment.
I don't wanna be discriminating but turkish carriers and their crews are
well-known in Germany for "seldom" maneuver and other operational items that -if the rules are applied by 1000%- should end up in groundings etc.

This would perfectly fit into the given description of the incident.

Call Established
24th Feb 2006, 21:28
Acft was F-OJHI A313, understand FDR/CVR were pulled out and replaced by MON Engineers. It departed at mid-nightish!

24th Feb 2006, 23:57
Funny "F" Reg im sure the Mahan I taxied past today was TC Reg which I believe is Turkish, may be wrong though, I wonder who these lease companies are and once again do the pax know they are buying tickets on these quality carriers? I assume Mahan vet these third party carriers to the companies own high standards?????????

O well makes a change not to see icelandic reg's stuck on the side of many an "airlines" aircraft!

25th Feb 2006, 02:17
The Sun on friday reported this incident briefly, something along the lines of:

"An iranian plane full of hundreds of terrified passengers mistakenly attempted to land at an abandoned airfield when the pilot became confused. If the plane had landed at the WW2 airfield the plane would have broken up and everybody would have died. Luckily ATC spotted the mistake and warned the pilot..."

#not exact text, cos i left the rag on the tube#

25th Feb 2006, 05:45
Just looking at the BHX plates. If ILS was unseriveable at the time, Mahan would have been cleared for NDB DME Rwy 33 and NOT NDB ILS DME Rwy 33 approach. On the NDB/DME approach, the procedure calls for IBM 110.1f or DME and 406 BHX for bearing with 5.1 as descent point, Minimums at 800ft or height of 475ft. MAP over the threshold at 800ft would result in a go around. Following the ILS profile would allow reaching 800ft approximately at 1.3 to 1.5 DME.

If Mahan was at 800ft at 6DME they where indeed low and below prescribed heights.

However the paragraph quoted from BHX noise abatement procedures is slightly out of context and by no means is it MANDATORY but rather recommended to follow these procedures. Read part GENERAL.
Aircraft performance, adverse weather conditions and safety will sometimes dictate deviations from noise abatement procedures.
Wether it is smart to deviate is a totally different issue: Bells will ring, letters to the company, fines etc and a DCM (Don't Come Monday) letter from Chief pilot.


25th Feb 2006, 07:09
Just so there is no doubt - on thursday the Glidepath was not available on 33 - therefore next best option Localiser approach utilising dme - same approach we had to use most of last year because the 'builders' were in at BHX. Therefore no need to resort to NDB approach.

25th Feb 2006, 09:59
I think it is far to say that most operators utilise a constant descent approach guided by advisory altitudes against dme. If anyone believes that a non-precision approach should be conducted by an immediate descent to MDA after the IAF followed by a low and slow dragged in approach at minima they are kidding themselves especially in medium or large commercial aircraft.

There is the odd exception where reaching minima 'slightly early' may be considered an essential compromise (Corfu 35) - but this has to be well considered and briefed relative to the circumstances in question.

25th Feb 2006, 11:14
Acft was F-OJHI A313
Mahan have had this for 3 to 4 years, bought from Turkish Airlines in 2002 and operated on the Iranian register for a while. Then they seem to have done a sale/leaseback deal on it at the end of 2004 as a result of which it moved onto the French Overseas register, as often happens with Airbus aircraft in this situation. It gives the lessor additional rights over the aircraft if there are problems with lease payments.

25th Feb 2006, 18:43
Funny "F" Reg im sure the Mahan I taxied past today was TC Reg which I believe is Turkish, may be wrong though, I wonder who these lease companies are and once again do the pax know they are buying tickets on these quality carriers? I assume Mahan vet these third party carriers to the companies own high standards?????????
O well makes a change not to see icelandic reg's stuck on the side of many an "airlines" aircraft!

Red Wings
The aircraft involved was F-OJHI and did indead depart just after midnight. The aircraft you saw was TC-SGB operating the following days flight which is leased from Saga Airlines in full Mahan colours:ok:

26th Feb 2006, 09:34
For those of you arguing as to how to fly a NPA, I draw your attention to DOHA vordme/vor Jepp rwy34 plate 13/2 date nov 05. Something there for everyone.
As for bhx. Well the last time i was there the atis said ils u/s, not loc. The loc was not notammed out either. Last minute clearance for the NDB. I asked why they couldnt put the approach in use on the atis. We assumed a loc. Wasnt , visual so no probs but could have been a mess. Their terse response was to say it was notamed out. It wasnt but either way we have to show good airmanship with timely and effective briefings. Surely they should show good atismanship and stop being such brummy t0ssers:8

26th Feb 2006, 13:03
Even the old A300 B4 could fly a constant descent path using raw data AND autopilot, -

Can't pilots fly aircraft themselves anymore? :ugh:

28th Feb 2006, 01:21
>>Yes, if they have to, but why not make it smoother & easier to monitor? Autopilot in = much more brain capacity & easier for the NFP to monitor.<<

Any NFP who can't properly monitor the flight path while the autopilot is not engaged, needs to turn in his/her license at the nearest CAA office and take up another line of work.

Autopilot in (nearly all the time)= not much practise with basic flying skills, and unable to do the task that has been assigned.

28th Feb 2006, 08:16
It will only get worse, and more difficult to hand fly, or A/P with raw data ADF/VOR app.

I made a right pigs of one last week, ILS went tech, and no time to set up FMS I was forced to fly raw data... NO pax.......so no complaints, but my ego was battered a little bit...

28th Feb 2006, 10:36
Has anyone mentioned the metres v feet scenario in this case. As 600m is 1900ft or so, there may have been a mis-interpretation here.

28th Feb 2006, 11:48
Obviously I have to clarify the Mahan-Fleet

Yes, F- stands definately for France.
The A310s are leased via Airbus Asset Management and due to some Law&Leasing Construction they have been registered in France after being registered in Iran (EP-) after Mahan took delivery.
On the other side Mahan operates 2 A320s from the german Bluewings that meanwhile carry EP-Reg.

The good old A300s have all EP-Reg.

Furthermore, Mahan leased the following acfts:
1. A310 TC-SGB and SGC from Saga Air (Turkey)
2. A320 F-GZZZ from Eagle aviation (Which spontaniously also operated A310s on their behalf)
3. L1011 JY-SGI from SkyGate
4. MD80 LZ-LDZ from Bulgarian Air Charter.

More A310s via Airbus Asset Managemnt from Turkish Airlines are planned to replace the old 300s and in addition Mahan seems to be in Talks with some Lessors about MD80, older A320 or similar ones to replace the Tupolevs!

Hope this helps to clarify how mixed Mahan-Operations is :ouch:

two pints
5th Mar 2006, 23:57
Next time your in Carrot county just tell them your ADF is u/s and request an SRA, that'll stop em drinking tea and reading Nut's & Zoo all afternoon

Yes - quite correct we drink lots of tea - but as for Zoo and Nuts - come on!! :) - we're more usually found chatting to you pilots who've popped in for a vist!!

and as for SRA's - bring it on -we like a good challenge with the Westerley wind!!!

6th Mar 2006, 07:36

Last time I did request an SRA at BHX (during period of NDB/DME approaches last summer), I had to terminate it as it was so far off track!!

Thought it might be useful for the new F/O who was with me and had never done one (having been ex military and only done PAR's). Sadly however the only lesson he could have learnt was not to request one - if I had let the exercise go on any longer we would not have been able to land from the approach:eek:


6th Mar 2006, 08:54
Two articles in the Birmingham Mail on Saturday.
Article 1
A PASSENGER jet heading into Birmingham International Airport was just 177 feet from the ground and 20 seconds from a major disaster.
The 210-seater A310 Airbus, operated by Iranian carrier Mahan Air, was so low it would have smashed through the Birmingham Wheel had it been in the city.
Last week experts said the jet was flying at 600ft when near disaster happened over the flightpath near Honiley in Warwickshire at midday on Thursday February 23.
But they failed to reveal that they meant 600ft above sea level - that's a spine chilling 177 feet above farmer John Conneally's house.
The Mail's investigation has also revealed that pilots have been approaching the airport without the aid of a crucial piece of 'guiding' equipment.
Had the pilot continued on his trajectory he would have ploughed through hundreds of homes in Balsall Common.
The true extent of the potentially catastrophic near-miss with the plane still six miles from the runway was revealed by a reliable source.
The jet would have cut a devastating path through homes in Balsall Common but for the intervention of air traffic controllers.
Mr Conneally, a farmer who lives under the flight path, said at the time:
"They say the plane was 600 feet, but it looked as if it was 200 feet. It was terrifying."
His house is 423 feet above sea level.
Article 2
THE airport has been operating on several occasions without a crucial piece of guiding equipment, the Mail can reveal today.
The major hub has operated without a "glide path" - a radio beam which provides a trajectory for pilots to follow - during the past year because of engineering work.
Instead some pilots have been operating a "dive and drive" technique, where the plane descends more quickly.
Flight experts posting on a website used by professional pilots said the dive and drive system -where the pilot drops to a certain level and drives onwards to the runway - was a recipe for disaster.
Dive and drive is dangerous in such a large plane, professional pilots say on a website. One said: "You simply do NOT fly an approach like that in a heavy jet." Another said it could be a "quick way to an accident".
The Department of Transport's Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) is currently conducting an investigation into the incident, where the plane was only saved from disaster after frantic work by air traffic controllers.
Today a spokesman for BIA confirmed the plane's height from the ground was only 177ft, and that the 600ft figure originally reported was its height above sea-level.
The claims from our source also indicate:
There was a communication breakdown between the pilot and air traffic controllers on the ground, struggling to communicate in English, the international language for pilots.
If the plane had not pulled up when it did, it was just 20 seconds from a fatal crash.
The jet was not lined up with the runway when making its approach over Honiley, near Kenilworth.
Today a spokesman for BIA said: "The aircraft was held at Birmingham whilst its flight data recorder was removed for analysis, but has now returned to Tehran.
"The precise trajectory of the aircraft together with interaction with traffic controllers and other relevant issues, is the subject of investigation.
"Indications are that the aircraft was around 600 feet altitude above sea level, though the CAA inquiry will no doubt verify the correct height.
"BIA does not have the precise terrain height at the lowest point of the aircraft - no doubt this will be determined as part of the inquiry.
"On a normal approach, we would expect an aircraft to descend at 300 feet per mile. Approach speed would be in the order of 120-150 mph."
The airport also confirmed the "scheduled outages" of the "Cat 3b Instrument Landing System", or glide path.
A spokesman said these were because of engineering work and all authorities had been notified.
"A Cat 3b Instrument Landing System permits a 'precision approach' to be flown by modern aircraft, with the latest navigational aids, in poor visibility.
"Weather conditions at BIA on the day in question did not require a cat 3b approach.
"Instances of low-flying are very rare in the UK. Whilst it can be an unsettling and frightening experience, it should be appreciated that a number of safeguards exist. For instance, all modern aircraft are fitted with ground proximity warning systems, which would alert pilots if they were flying dangerously low."

6th Mar 2006, 09:36
Just to clear up a few things. The GP at BHX has been out for what seems like years! (about 1 to be precise). They have been utilising the LOC/DME procedure onto 33. The FAF(4DME) alt is 1680ft and the MDA is 740 (although we add 50ft to this for a constant decent approach). If the aircraft in question was at 300ft over HON, then what they were doing there is beyond me as it bears no relation to any of the BHX approaches. 300ft is well below MDA, and HON is six miles out. I hear the weather was good so they should have been vissual with the airfield and there are PAPIs at 3deg anyway.

two pints
6th Mar 2006, 10:27
Last time I did request an SRA at BHX (during period of NDB/DME approaches last summer), I had to terminate it as it was so far off track!!

30W - sorry to hear you had a bad experience - we have to do so many SRA's a year to remain current, but apart from that they are few and far between. You may occasionally get controllers asking you if you could accept an SRA for our training purposes, you can of course refuse!!

I hope you'll not be put off from asking for an SRA for crew training in the future, we all need the practice for that one day when SRA's have to be done as no other approach facilities available or in an emergency situation.

I will pass your comments on to our training manager though and see if we can build a few more in to the system. I'd appreciate any other pilots thoughts on SRA's at brum - susscessful or otherwise!!

6th Mar 2006, 10:59
ithought this was a bgi fuss when i heard it was 600ft.but i didnt realise that meant it was 600ft above sea level (nobody mentioned this before)
How on earth do trained professional pilots manage to do something like this,regardless of what equipment is or isnt available.surely they should have the capability to land an aircraft correctly when instruments arent working correctly?

two pints check your pms ;)

Volmet South
6th Mar 2006, 11:12
errrrr..... even 600 feet AGL would give cause for concern i.e. probably much lower than the normal circuit height flown by a light aircraft at your local airfield.

6th Mar 2006, 11:20
Would the GPWS not have gone off? or did they think they were on short finals and not see that something was wrong!!


6th Mar 2006, 11:23
As already hinted at, it looks more and more as if they were reading DME from HON iso IBM.

6th Mar 2006, 14:08
Yes and landing QNH with 33 elev at 325' they sure weren't 600' agl. However, I guess their radar return would have been seen at 600' when the ATCO fortunately gave what ever instruction to climb.

You always were on the ball up in that Twr.....well once you got the camera looking at the 33 Thr and you could see what had chosen to position & hold, but that one was a long time back:ouch:

Stan Evil
6th Mar 2006, 20:11
I'm pretty sure that this happened on a day when the QNH was around 985 mb. The difference in height between 1013 and 985 is around 1000ft - need I say more?

6th Mar 2006, 20:43
"ithought this was a bgi fuss when i heard it was 600ft.but i didnt realise that meant it was 600ft above sea level (nobody mentioned this before)

I rather thought I had - on Feb 23rd:

"600 ft in an A310 over Honiley must have looked....interesting. Hope that was height, not altitude!"

6th Mar 2006, 23:03
>>I'm pretty sure that this happened on a day when the QNH was around 985 mb. The difference in height between 1013 and 985 is around 1000ft - need I say more?

This is a well known gotcha with the low transition level (and frequent low QNH's) in the UK. In most of the world TL's are much higher, you can still mess it up but you have a lot better chance of catching it before terrain avoidance becomes a factor. Departures are no better with having to twist in QNE just as you get an altitude capture and a climb clearance with a new heading on the many SID's with a low altitude restriction.

The quaint old QFE approach procedures were finally abandoned after so many crashes, perhaps someday the transition layer will be raised to a less busy, higher level in the UK.

7th Mar 2006, 11:35
Why we have persisted with low Transition Altitudes in England is quite beyond me. The TA should be set countrywide to 1000' above the highest safety altiude in the land.... and left there.

7th Mar 2006, 12:30
Well over four years ago a CAA level-bust project, "On the Level", among it's many conclusions, recommended that the TA in the UK should be a common 6000ft. The recommendation suggested that the common altitude should be even higher, like the USA, but at least 6000ft would be a good starter at taking the knob twiddling further away from the gear up, flap up sequence, power back, acceleration activity on a take off. (These recommendations were based on what all you practising pilots felt, not by a group of people who were living in the past)

It was understood that the project recommendation had been accepted along with suggestions from a similar on-going NATS sponsored project. Wake me up when the CAA decide to take some ACTION or does there have to be an accident! I must say that the attitude in the corridors of power seems to be "Lets talk about it for five years via dozens of meetings and maybe it will go away!! It's all far to difficult and in any case there's no money"!!!

brain fade
7th Mar 2006, 13:19
I'm only surprised that there hasn't been more incidents. Someones bound to cock up eventually if the ILS is left off long enough!
That glideslope has been off for ages.

7th Mar 2006, 13:37
sorry BEagle,as i am cabin crew not flight deck,height and altitude are the same thing to me!

13th Mar 2006, 13:41
From today's Flight International:

" Radar-derived information inidcates that the twinjet arriving from Tehran on 23rd February could have been as low as 175ft (53m) above ground level while still 7nm (13km) from touchdown.":eek:

13th Mar 2006, 15:14
Two winters now that BHX facilities have been almost constantly downgraded - no surprise indeed that this type of incident occurred. Many is the time upon departure or arrival that we have commented that once again ' not much work going on today then' ! For an International airport to be so denuded for so long is surely inacceptable ?

Dream Buster
13th Mar 2006, 15:57
Don't you think we Brits sometimes set some incredibly low standards and then consistantly fail to achieve them?

13th Mar 2006, 16:16
I recently flew an NDBDME apch rwy15 in Birmingham and first of all what is sad the ILS 15 was unserviceable and it seems often that in this airport NDB apch is in use.nothing was in NOTAM but only in the ATIS(most probably it came u/s during my flight.min 820 ft QNH for a CANPA apch NDBDME15
it is sad that there is no VOR/DME apch at least in order to be able to lower the minimas a little bit.

13th Mar 2006, 21:03
I thought you guys would like to read the article I came accross in Flight International.

Iranian jet flew as low as 175ft

Investigations continue into why A310 was far below required height during UK approach

Preliminary investigations into the unexplained low approach by a Mahan Air Airbus A310 into Birmingham airport in the UK have revealed that the aircraft was much closer to the ground than initially thought. http://www.flightglobal.com/assets/getAsset.aspx?ItemID=11914
The Mahan Air A310 landed safely after executing a go-around

Radar-derived information indicates that the twinjet, arriving from Tehran on 23 February, could have been as low as 175ft (53m) above ground level while still 7nm (13km) from touchdown.
Initial information from the airport suggested the aircraft had been at 600ft over Honiley, south-east of the airport, but this was the height above mean sea level (AMSL) (Flight International 28 February–6 March). Birmingham airport is 325ft AMSL, but UK charts show the Honiley VOR navigation beacon is 400-425ft AMSL, indicating that the aircraft could have been just 175ft above the ground. The jet had been on a non-precision approach to Runway 33 when it descended below the height required in the procedure. “We do not have the precise terrain height at the lowest point for the aircraft,” says Birmingham airport. “No doubt this will be determined by the inquiry.” The aircraft was instructed to execute a go-around and subsequently landed safely.
Birmingham airport’s Cat­egory 3b instrument landing system was unavailable at the time due to scheduled maintenance.

15th Mar 2006, 12:07
1. For this unit, why was the minimum safe altitude warning not triggered at approach control? have they forgotten to install it?
2. I have done CFIT reduction projects for some JAR OPS airlines that were still doing dive and drive, although all are meant to be doing constant descent.
3. MDA is just that, so you may need to add 30 to 50 feet. IF you do the correct obstacle survey, then you may be able to go below, but as flightdeck you may not be aware of the yes/no to the correct survey, risk assessment and regulatory approval on this one. However, the investigators will examine in the event of a report, or at least should. Please do not break MDA without being visual.
4. VDP is the LAST time that you can descend, at relatively high rate, to the runway. This is often set around 3.8 or 4.0 degrees, beware!
5. ICAO PANS OPS v2 does not make it a requirement for constant descent angles, therefore, carriers from outside JAR OPS, FAA and a few other countries are allowed to dive and drive.
6. If BHX wanted to stop the low approaches, then you have to make the DME vs Altitude table ALL STEP DOWN FIXES. The airport operator is responsible for the Instrument Flight Procedures, oh, is it, or is that UK CAA DAP, the procedure design team and self regulating organisation not overseen by UK CAA SRG and with no safety management system.....
7. I seem to remember that the crunched Aztec on the accident investigation course at Cranfield seemed to suffer from a remarkably similar "event" although there was a piece of it found in a tree or vice versa. Should be a standard answer from AAIB course notes then!

15th Mar 2006, 22:21
Non-precision approaches flown at a constant rate of descent are preferred and encouraged for obvious reasons, but are not mandatory - inside or outside of JAA states. Some procedures require dive and drive as you chose to put it - but not BHX. Most operators, mine included, whilst encouraging CD, leave it up to the operating Captain.

26th Oct 2006, 10:44
Has a report been published about this incident?

18th Dec 2007, 18:05
Report is out tomorrow (19th Dec) and makes for interesting reading. 160ft AGL over HON :eek:

19th Dec 2007, 00:26
They need to employ a pilot i once saw doing an NDB let down in a simulator at Wichita, when he reached MDA the airfield was 2 nm behind him.

India Four Two
19th Dec 2007, 05:53

19th Dec 2007, 11:09
The report concludes that the primary cause of the incident was the use by the crew of the incorrect DME for the approach. The difference between the two DME distances is is approximately 6nm.

Also doing things like this really doesn't help:

"Almost coincident with the FO making the radio call,
the commander asked “what ’s the procedure”, the
supernumerary captain advised the first check altitude,
which was 1,650 ft at 4 DME, before adding “from
four dme we can go to minimum”. The commander
inquired what the minimum was and the FO and
supernumerary captain both advised that it was 740 ft.
The commander repeated “minimum seven four
zero…..we go for five hundred”," :eek:

19th Dec 2007, 12:46
Very scary reading. The poor old F/O made many attempts at pointing out what was wrong but was pretty much ignored by the Captain and heavy Captain (who wasn't there for the descent brief).

Also, by law, the Airbus should have been fitted with a position/terrain-aware GPWS but it hadn't been. They had a descent rate of c.1,500fpm at 300'AGL near Honiley that triggered a sink rate warning; if they'd been at 800fpm for a 3deg approach it would have stayed silent... :eek:

The whole thing reads like an engineered CRM demonstration (how not to do it!) What's worse, they tried to fly it the same way a second time round; no wonder they got impounded after the incident.

19th Dec 2007, 13:57
What makes it even more scary is that presumably some tour outfit is using these guys.

I guess they come cheap.:hmm:

20th Dec 2007, 16:52
Yeoman, what are you talking about??? Mahan were/are a scheduled operator selling tickets through travel agents, not blocks of seat to tour operators. Main target was the Indian and far east market with connections sold to DEL and BKK.