View Full Version : Landing accident at 14000 feet/4280 meters

6th May 2016, 19:37
A minor accident (no casualities, aircraft returned to base) - but with some unusual aspects:

- Cabin Altitude allowed to rise to 14000 feet in hold before approach - degraded judgement?
- 3rd highest airport - DA likely just below 15000 feet. TAS at Vref...?
- CRM issues and press-on-itis

Accident: China Eastern A319 at Kangding on May 1st 2016, struck approach lights on final approach (http://avherald.com/h?article=497b06be&opt=0)

Also, I'm intrigued that some assume that for part of the APCH lights to end up impaled in the HS, that the HS must have hit the lights. My assumption is that the lights, broken loose by the gear, bounced along the ground (at a significant percentage of impact speed) until taking a high bounce into the tail.

6th May 2016, 23:49
The report does say horizontal stabilizer. Perhaps a high AOA combined with the approach lighting spacing caused a direct hit to the stab?

Capn Bloggs
7th May 2016, 00:02
Do they land pressurised at those sort of altitudes?

galaxy flyer
7th May 2016, 01:08
I sure hope not! Emergency evacuation would be difficult, just the usual differential of something like 0.5psid. Crew should be on O2.

7th May 2016, 02:14
Potentially not so minor: from The Aviation Herald:

On May 4th 2016 China's Civil Aviation Authority, Southwest Branch, held an emergency meeting stating, that although the outcome was different by sheer luck the reasons for the accident in Kangding were similiar to the crash in Yichun, see Crash: Henan Airlines E190 at Yichun on Aug 24th 2010, impacted terrain short of runway and burst into flames (http://avherald.com/h?article=4300bc3c&opt=0).

Due to the high elevation it was procedural requirement, that this approach into Kangding (as well as subsequent departure from Kangding) had to be flown by two captains. The flight was therefore crewed with two captains and one first officer. However, the first captain in charge of the flight permitted the second captain to remain in the cabin, after the second captain reported fatigued and therefore did not enter the cockpit. The first officer had not been trained for high altitude airport operations and was not qualified for the operation.

While descending towards Kangding tower informed the crew that the clouds at Kangding were below minima, the aircraft entered a hold to wait for weather improvement. Cloud conditions changed rapidly, the aircraft therefore commenced an approach, however, at minimum descent height (MDH) the first officer, pilot monitoring, called that the runway was not in sight, the captain, pilot flying, however continued the descent assuming they would see the runway any time.

The aircraft touched down outside the airport perimeter as result and broke through 4 rows of approach lights before going around. A horizontal stabilizer was pierced, the hydraulic fluid of one system was completely lost and tyres damaged, however, the crew did not inform about the occurrence and did not seek assistance.

It was further stated in the meeting, that the crew permitted the cabin altitude to climb to above 14,000 feet MSL while in the hold waiting for weather improvement, this misconfiguration probably contributed to the accident sequence.

On May 6th 2016 China's Civil Aviation Authority suspended the Sichuan branch of China Eastern Airlines and opened disciplinary proceedings against captain and first officer.(paragraph breaks added)

Capn Bloggs
7th May 2016, 02:41
The reason I ask is oxy for the pilots; we must wear oxy above 10,000ft. If you land depressurised, we'd have to have our masks on during the approach. Just curious about how these high altitude approaches are done.

7th May 2016, 03:43
Although I'm speaking from the Boeing aspect, I'm sure brand A does something similar.
There is a specific option package for operating out of airports above 8,000 ft. Among other things, it allows setting the airport altitude above 8k (up to, IIRC, 15k) and prevents the cabin O2 masks from dropping up to something above the selected airport altitude. As gf noted, the flight crew should be on supplemental oxygen whenever cabin altitude is above 10k.

A few years ago we were looking at a high altitude option for the 747-8F in response to operator interest, but ultimately nothing became of it.

7th May 2016, 04:19
PFP - I agree, could have been much worse. I just didn't want to overstate what did happen.

My impression is that when they were waved off by ATC during descent because airport was below minimums, they had already turned on the high-altitude option, set to airport elevation 14000, and then forgot to turn it off while holding.

I've been up to 14000 feet here in the Rockies - and the brain definitely gets mushy and full of cotton balls above about 12000, even though I'm acclimatized to Denver's mile-high atmosphere.

7th May 2016, 07:55
Blimey, an airport 14,000’+ up that takes airliners. I thought Bogota was impressive when I operated out of there but this is extreme. Must be c.25% IAS/TAS, especially in summer.

I’d feel the need for supplemental O2 in the terminal let alone on the approach, unless they have some sort of enrichment system, like the trains that go across the Tibetan plateau.

Capt Fathom
7th May 2016, 10:32
La Paz, Bolivia. 13000' amsl has been operating for decades.

7th May 2016, 12:32
Bloggsy, Airbus procedure is for crew to use O2 at high ALT airfields. Its in the supplementary procedures (well in ours anyway).

7th May 2016, 14:19
La Paz, Bolivia. 13000' amsl has been operating for decades.
Where a "walk around" bottle was used for the walk around.

7th May 2016, 15:52
The Aviation Herald:

On May 7th 2016 China's Civil Aviation Authority announced that the licenses of both captains have been revoked for life time, the first officer's license was suspended for 6 months. The CAAC argued that one captain remained in the cabin although rostered to perform the flight, the crew did not use oxygen although the cabin altitude was above 10,000 feet, the first officer was not qualified for high altitude airport operation. The Sichuan Branch of China Eastern Airlines flight volume has been cut by 10%, the branch is not permitted to apply for new routes, slots or charter flights, no crew duty time extensions are permitted and the branch will be fined 600 million Yuan (81 million Euro, 92 million US$).

7th May 2016, 17:45
That’ll learn ‘em. Who needs “just culture”...?

7th May 2016, 22:47
It looks on the satellite view like the terrain slopes sharply up to runway level, with only five rows of approach lights between the top of the slope and the overrun. Depending on which four rows they hit, that looks awfully close to a CFIT.

Capn Bloggs
8th May 2016, 02:33
Bloggsy, Airbus procedure is for crew to use O2 at high ALT airfields. Its in the supplementary procedures (well in ours anyway).
Thanks Don. That would be "messy", I'd imagine.

8th May 2016, 06:12
That’ll learn ‘em. Who needs “just culture”...?
"Just" does not mean that negligence should not be punished.

It certainly sounds like plenty of negligence was on display.

8th May 2016, 06:27
at minimum descent height (MDH) the first officer, pilot monitoring, called that the runway was not in sight, the captain, pilot flying, however continued the descent assuming they would see the runway any time.

Well, if anything "positive" comes out of this accident one would hope it would be a greater understanding of why we have published MDA/DHs and why it's a good idea to comply with them.... There's always some who think they're smarter....

SMT Member
8th May 2016, 09:52
Well, I can imagine the attention of some airlines would be drastically sharpened, if management knew a duck-up could result in sanctions similar to those levied on Sichuan.

But that would require the likes of the FAA and EASA to a) be given the powers to hand out such sanctions and b) the political will to enforce them. As both relies on politician to grow a pair and look beyond the corporate interests they are beholden to, chances are probably somewhere between slim and none.

Dictatorships does have their upsides.

8th May 2016, 14:21
That seems to be a public procedure but it isn't in Jeppesen's charts or worldwide database. Learn something everyday. I thought a procedure that appears in an ICAO state's AIP would be charted by Jeppesen and LIDO.

9th May 2016, 11:35
As far as I know, there is an internation AIP for China that can be "publicly" accessed by anyone outside of China. And than there is a domestic AIP which contains data not accessible outside of China.

The domestic AIP has data on airfields, navaids, approaches and airways which are only useable by Chinese operators, as far as I know.

(There are some sources on the internet where you can access most of this data, that is, approach and enroute charts, usually outdated of course. The chart on avherald is likely from someplace on the net.)

9th May 2016, 18:17

10th May 2016, 02:34
The highest airport in China, with RPT services, is around 15,200 ft.
Crews wear walk around bottles on the ground.

11th May 2016, 08:12
Yep. But this is "only" the ICAO version of the AIP China, that is, data accessible to international users, agencies, Jeppesen, etc...

Domestic airports like e.g. ZLGM (Golmud), ZUBD (Bamda) are not included. Yet, official charts for the airports do exist, just like there are airways that are not on ICAO charts but on domestic ERC charts e.g. H15 from Lhasa LXA VOR (N2918.0/E91) up north to Golumd GRM VOR (112.3, N3624.0/E09444.7).