View Full Version : Low fuel forced Italian MD-82 to land on closed runway

Mach trim
3rd Oct 2008, 18:40
SOURCE:Air Transport Intelligence
Low fuel forced Italian MD-82 to land on closed runway
By David Kaminski-Morrow
Italian investigators have disclosed that an aircraft on a domestic service between Milan Linate and Cagliari was forced to land on a closed runway because it burned diversion reserves during a prolonged hold.

While the Agenzia Nazionale per la Sicurezza del Volo (ANSV) does not specifically identify the incident, which has led investigators to issue a set of recommendations, the circumstances match those experienced by a Meridiana Boeing MD-82 which declared a fuel emergency on 5 May while holding to land at Cagliari.

ANSV says the aircraft, with 36 passengers on board, had been cleared for approach but the crew was subsequently instructed to execute a go-around because of the presence of birds on the runway.

The aircraft made a second attempt to approach the runway, 14L, but was again told to abort. It was then placed in a holding stack over Cagliari.

Twenty-three minutes after the first landing attempt, the crew declared a fuel emergency to air traffic controllers and requested clearance to land, despite the runway's being unavailable.

ANSV says that the aircraft had around 2,900kg of fuel on board at this point, less than the minimum level of fuel - some 3,100kg - required for diversion.

The aircraft landed 10min after the emergency declaration. Controllers opened the runway shortly afterwards.

While the aircraft's flight-data and cockpit-voice recorders had been overwritten by the time the incident was reported, four days later, ANSV says fuel levels on board the aircraft had been checked prior to departure from Milan, and the pilots had decided they "did not wish to upload extra fuel" for the flight.

It adds that a NOTAM was in place for Cagliari, valid from 1 May to 25 July, warning crews of possible delays because of birds in the vicinity of runway 14L/32R.

The aircraft's fuel levels reached their minimum for diversion about 19-20min after the first aborted approach and 3-4min after the second.

The investigators point out that the captain is responsible for verifying carriage of adequate fuel, including reserves for diversion and a final reserve.

ANSV says the jet should have been able to divert to an alternative airport, Olbia, without having to declare an emergency and land on a closed runway. It has issued four recommendations to the Italian civil aviation administration, urging better fuel-planning

tarjet fixated
3rd Oct 2008, 19:20
Cagliari is a well known "nightmare airport" because of its extremely poor ATC.
You get there and ATC won't tell you what approach to expect,afterwards it's not uncommon to have 2 or 3 different approach clearencies or runway changes depending on outbound traffic (which has precedence on landing aircraft???) , negligeable wind changes or military traffic operating in a closeby airport.
On top of everything italian ATCO's are not allowing pilots to shoot visual approaches (because of some pathetic union action against a judicial settlement in which a controller was convicted) having them flying the full instrument procedures even with 10.000 miles visibility and zero traffic around the field unless an emergency situation arises as in the above event.
The above incident is just another example of the very poor and unsafe approach the italian ATCO's are showing towards their job.

If the authorities are concentrating on "urging better fuel policies" they are missing the point: pilots base their planning decisions on standard procedures applied across the globe but can't really cope with a place where most things happen outside any internationnally recognised standard.

3rd Oct 2008, 20:33
Sweeping generalisation alert!!


Says it all really.

3rd Oct 2008, 20:54
Whaddya mean, they always disconnect the fueling hose before I leave the pits.;)

Henry VIII
4th Oct 2008, 11:33
ANSV says that the aircraft had around 2,900kg of fuel on board at this point, less than the minimum level of fuel - some 3,100kg - required for diversion.

Unless 2,900kg were below the final reserve fuel (30' hold at 1,500 ft) the cpt behavior was in accordance with EU-OPS 1.375, point b.

See also this thread. (http://www.pprune.org/tech-log/345165-how-much-your-minimum-fuel-destination.html)

4th Oct 2008, 12:50
Absolutely, Henry - whether one chooses to 'exercise' those paragraphs is a moot point, but assuming, as you say, reasonable weather it sounds perfectly 'correct' IAW JarOps, and indeed to have 2900kg 23 mins after planned landing says he/she was quite prudent. However, the Decci "The range she is a klo-zed" bug is obviously still prevalent there and bit him:).

Subsequent actions in landing quite correct and one would have hoped ATC would have made the runway available at the 'MAYDAY/PAN' point:mad:

4th Oct 2008, 13:52
Judging from the information IN this thread, they reached their diversion fuel, 3100 kgs, some 20 minutes after the first go-around. That means they probably departed on this flight with around 20 minutes of extra fuel. For normal weather conditions this seem perfectly ok to me. For reasons not attributable to them, they had to make two go-arounds. By this time they were committed to the airport and rightly so, imho, used their emergency authority to land.

Yaw String
4th Oct 2008, 15:39
Flintstone, Mister Fixated is a respected poster on the Italian forum.
He makes some valid points.
Daft comment!

Airbus Girl
4th Oct 2008, 16:25
Hmmm.... I understand the problems with the ATC this day but surely the brief before the 2nd approach should have been "in the event of a go-around this time we will divert to our alternate"?????

In the airline I work for we do maximum 2 approaches and then divert (unless exceptional reasons not to). Did they declare a mayday? Or a "fuel emergency" (which is legally not recognised in Europe). Did they make it clear that in the even of a go-around from the 2nd approach they would have to divert?

Yes, sounds like ATC/ airport authorities were not helping here, but surely even if you don't agree with the politics you should bide by the legalities.

4th Oct 2008, 18:25

4th Oct 2008, 18:33
go elsewhere before the tanks are below minimum divert fuel - don't forget Henry's point - you don't necessarily need an 'elsewhere' or to carry 'divert fuel', so the even of a go-around from the 2nd approach they would have to divert? might not apply.

We do not (as usual :{) know enough about the 'events' - eg were they 'go-rounds' or just denial of approach permission, what the weather was at dest and any alternate, what ATC were telling them etc etc - to make sensible analysis or criticism, do we?

Once again the armchair jury rears its head on PPrune.:mad:

4th Oct 2008, 20:40
I think we're getting a little over excited... :ooh:

The runway had some seagulls on it. Which seemed enough for ATC to tell it to GA... OK... but enough's enough, on the 3rd go they said we land, seagulls or no seagulls. Aim achieved. What's the worst that could happen? A few dents and a few dead seagulls... :=

What purpose would diverting do? Arrive at maybe a less suitable / smaller / worse weather airfield on Min Reserves? And god forbid a seagull or 2 decided to sit on the runway there :{

~3000Kgs sounds a lot of fuel? I suspect (?) the 3100Kgs was to retain Div Fuel? And pure 30mins Reserve on an MD-82 is? Given on an A320 it can be less than 1000Kgs...

As BOAC points out, that particular airfield has memories for many of us with random strange ATC procedures that are best treated with a certain degree of humour :ok:


4th Oct 2008, 20:43
"The investigators point out that the captain is responsible for verifying carriage of adequate fuel, including reserves for diversion and a final reserve."
Some food for thought for the "minimum fuel brigade". Bet the company had the same advice for the poor buggers!

4th Oct 2008, 22:57
I hesitate to point this out but the RSPB wants Herring gulls (as seen at the seaside and on rubish tips) to be put on it's red endangered species list. I believe currently it's on the amber list.

BBC NEWS | Magazine | The awk, awk, awk-ward squad (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/7596435.stm)

If that were to happen "local authorities would be required to draw up a 'Biodiversity Action Plan' to protect gulls". In which case landing and ingesting a few, when you could divert, might cause a spot of bother.

4th Oct 2008, 23:52
saddly, statistically many of the incidents happens at the third approach.

5th Oct 2008, 00:49
Non pilot speaking.

The point that had me exclaiming out loud was:-
While the aircraft's flight-data and cockpit-voice recorders had been overwritten by the time the incident was reported, four days laterWhhhaaaaattttt??????
Surely, there would have been alarm bells all over the place and everyone filling in forms for 24 hours after such an event???

5th Oct 2008, 08:28
Surely, there would have been alarm bells all over the place and everyone filling in forms for 24 hours after such an event???Not really... the "event" was an admin one, where the aircraft, I guess, landed below it's Reserves + Diversion fuel, but (I would also guess) well above it's Min Reserves.

It probabaly needed an MOR equivalent. Who knows where the 4 days went, but if the Flt Crew were on a busy day, and/or their procedures needed it filed at base, might be a day or so. By the time the MOR then got FAXed to a data processing house in India (as our airline does), entered into a Database, then a Manager back in the UK happens to review it (god forbid not at a weekend or Bank Holiday), and decides it warrants passing to the CAA equivalent... 4 days is quite easy.

I really cannot see this "event" as having any true safety implications - it seemed to land on a perfectly servicable piece of concrete, with quite a lot of fuel, probably on a nice day etc., with a perfectly serviceable aircraft. It will serve as an interesting "exercise" / training point about diversions, 3 GAs, "committing" etc.

Bear in mind, do we 100% know, that in pilot terms (not newspaper terms) it really did 2 "Go Arounds" i.e. full power, nose well high, or maybe had to discontinue 2 approachs, say above 1000'? The 3 GAs rule, I would guess, is more directed to limiting vis / cloudbase / crosswind / windshear and the inability of the aircraft / crew to continue the approach, rather than some random ATC policy written by the RSPB :confused:

(Our rules are similar to those above - 3rd approach not to be done unless the circs really have changed. We have also been nicked by the CAA/AAIB for a far more serious engineering indicent where the paperwork trail let the aircraft fly for a large number of sectors [6 days!] prior grounding / investigation - despite the MOR being filed correctly / immediately by the crew).


5th Oct 2008, 12:17
I'm pretty sure these 'rules' are a mixture of 'history' and commonsense,

As NoD says, if you have flown 2 'full-blooded' g/as for wind/cloud/vis or whatever that stops you seeing the runway or landing on it, then:-

1) Why the *** are you trying again? Has anything really changed since the last time?

2) Do you think your pax are enjoying it?

3) Is there really any point?

Nothing in my book to stop me being cleared twice for an approach and having ATC cancel the clearance for some reason, birds, tech etc so I can continue gently around the pattern, and my having 'another go' if the reasons are right.

5th Oct 2008, 17:50
Can we just expand/clarify what we all mean by this terminology. In my experience of various companies, this only applies to weather related Go Arounds, i.e lack of visual reference at DH/MDA or wind out of limits. I suspect those that have quoted their company manual have omitted the important caveat relating to weather. See current manual extract from one UK company. And of course the reason is to stop pilots "pushing" their luck, I believe its that simple.

Multiple Approaches
Except in an emergency, or when there has been a significant change
in reported weather conditions, no more than two successive
approaches to an aerodrome may be carried out where both
approaches have resulted in go-around due to weather.

sika hulmuta
5th Oct 2008, 18:29
Nothing changes... as BOAC says " the range she -a -clos-ed - you go-a 'ome". Standard operations, and the crew would have known it.

Seems like they did the right thing to me, and probably landed well above legal minimum fuel. Hence the delay to report the "standard" problem. What's the fuss?

5th Oct 2008, 18:35
Bit 'echo-ey' in here, Starbear?

6th Oct 2008, 14:46
Correct me if I'm wrong: it has been known.

ATC can not close a runway for weather, or I suspect for birds. They can advise there are birds on the runway. They can commence bird scaring operations and thus close the runway due to vehicular and personnel prescence on the runway. I don't think they can order a G/A "due birds on runway."

7th Oct 2008, 07:16
The story of flight was little bit different ...i work for the same company and i know very well the collegue that forced the landing...

The ATC gave istructions for landing ( radar vector ) and , when the plane was at the minima , istructed the pilot to perform a go-around for birds presence .

After some others minuts in holding the ATC gave clearence for second approach and , when the plane arrive to the minima .....same story : go-around.

Observation : for your opinion it's more safe perform a landing or two go-around for birds ? For the ATC it's better perform a go around ???!!!!

At this time the commander ask for ETA and the controller replay undefined ....the commander ask if the airport was closed and the ATC say : no , but we have birds on the runway ..... The commander ask again : if the airport it's not close i like to land ....
They had a continously mismatch between ATC and Commander regarding the minings of frase : airport close or open ; for atc the airport was not closed but tecnically not available for landing .....

This was the reason why at the end the crew landed on Cagliari .
If the airport it's not closed , if a safety car it's not on the runway you cannot close an airport because some birds are flying around ....if every ATC close an airport or not only for birds reason the sistem will collapsed ...

This was a tipicaly Italian war , like the patetic war for visual approach, between Atc and Italian governament to induce the state to buy the anti-birds sistem ......producing economic damage to airline company in the event to push them to make pressure on governament .....

Some days ago the ATC in Cagliari doesen't gave the take off clearence to an airplane because the weather was not good........


7th Oct 2008, 07:52
I have never seen such an incompetent , poor , stupid ATC as the one in Cagliari.
I have flown around 4 continents and never seen anything like that. Flown several times there.

Completely agree with target fixated.

tarjet fixated
8th Oct 2008, 02:27

and I didn't tell you about the several times i actually called APP/TWR after landing to explain what ICAO doc. 4444 states about visual approaches, about information to be passed on to airborne traffic, about flight procedures and what their role as ATCO's should be (to expedite air traffic safely and efficently)...a total waste of time to be honest.

8th Oct 2008, 11:00
imho they are just a bunch of macho's... always wanting to show everyone 'i have the power'....