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Russian 737 on ILS 263 knots over the fence.

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Russian 737 on ILS 263 knots over the fence.

Old 11th Feb 2021, 09:45
  #1 (permalink)  
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Russian 737 on ILS 263 knots over the fence.

Flight director addiction can do that to you..

Incident: Aeroflot B738 at Moscow on Jan 24th 2021, high speed, high sink rate ILS approach, GPWS alert
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Old 11th Feb 2021, 11:14
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I think last year the Russians changed from QFE to QNH, and Sheremetyevo is at 600' AMSL. They are also giving up meters for the western feet (for altitude).

So, a crew who isn't very current in COVID conditions, looking at 800' on the altimeter, and reverting to previous experience thinking "That's 800 feet to go, I can still do this" and then getting the shock of becoming visual 200' above the ground.

... and perhaps even thinking "that's 800 meters to go..."??
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Old 11th Feb 2021, 11:39
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Interesting handling skills.....
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Old 11th Feb 2021, 12:24
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Similar to PIA8303 at Karachi last year, thankfully the Russians went around just in time.
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Old 11th Feb 2021, 13:54
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Not exactly. In my opinion, it doesn’t seem like there was an intentional violation to continue to land from this unstable approach. Like Centaurus said: Flight director addiction (or dependency). Blindly following FD guidance into a 8 degree nose down attitude with 2680 fpm without noticing all the parameters and not realising they are this close to the ground. They were in IMC, and as Checkboard said, they were probably not used to feet and QNH.

But more data is needed, like height vs. distance and GS indication. This can be a case of false GS signal. RoD from 1100 to 2680 fpm as instructed by the FD seems abnormal. Unless they got high on the glide and the FDs were only indicating to re-intercept. Either way, those RoDs and that pitch should have rung a bell earlier, before they got a GPWS warning. But luckily they followed the GPWS.
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Old 11th Feb 2021, 14:56
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Russian VSIs are in meters per second which might have added to the confusion if they were used to operating on this standard and were now looking at feet per minute. The wind is given as 42 kts speed but no direction, if it was a tailwind it wouldn’t have helped the situation. Auto pilot and auto thrust off suggests he wanted a bit of practice to get current again.

Possibly a bit on the fast side initially but salvageable. Slightly late flap extension at slightly high speed could have caused the aircraft to balloon resulting in a strong pitch down command from the FDs. Landing weight not given but a high weight would have added to the problem.

It looks like a bit of manual flying went wrong and energy wasn’t correctly managed, likely that the crew may not have been very current either.

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Old 11th Feb 2021, 16:27
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"The wind is given as 42 kts speed but no direction, if it was a tailwind it wouldn’t have helped the situation".

Surface wind (per the METAR) was 140 at 8 kts.
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Old 11th Feb 2021, 21:56
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This must have been a NG with short field package (the regular NG only have blow back for flaps 30 and 40).
These aircraft are slippery since you only get full leading edge slats when flaps > 25.
The regular NG get full leading edge slats when flaps = 10 or greater.
This makes a big difference when you are hot and high.
Not sure if they have a mixed fleet or only short field versions, but if you are used to the
basic type, you can get a surprise when you fly the short field type.

This may or may not have been a factor, just throwing it out there.
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Old 11th Feb 2021, 22:59
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The wind is given as 42 kts when turning to intercept the localiser. Wind a few 1000’ agl is often very different to surface wind, I’ve had strong tail winds on approach and landed with a slight headwind.

I’m putting it down to a bit of manual handling practice gone wrong, the Captain was behind the aircraft, quite possibly due to lack of currency.

There has been an upward trend in unstable approaches recently as crew return to flying after several months on the ground.
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Old 11th Feb 2021, 23:59
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The 737 variants are fascinating, for example a 737-800 can carry 40 thousand tons of fuel! So I would expect a very high Vref with it.

Last edited by Pugilistic Animus; 18th Mar 2021 at 02:00.
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Old 12th Feb 2021, 13:08
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Impressive! 40000 ton? That’s half of a small oil tanker.

On-topic: I’m in favour of manual flight to keep your skills sharp, but with 2600m -DZ BR OVC002 it was probably not the best time to practice it.
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Old 12th Feb 2021, 14:32
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737 - 800 maximum fuel load is just over 26 tonnes. The 900 series, when fitted with auxiliary tanks can carry up to about 40 tonnes.
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Old 12th Feb 2021, 20:24
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With all due respect this approach had gone horribly wrong well before they got anywhere near DA, so the weather at the airfield is largely irrelevant.
There was nothing wrong with the aircraft, as far as we know, so a qualified crew should have had no problem flying the approach in this weather, except for a large failure of situational awareness for what ever reason. If OPS told me that they’d replanned a flight below RVSM airspace because the autopilots were U/S and I refused to take it because the weather at destination was 2600 m ovc at 200ft I think they would be asking if I should be in the left hand seat, or in fact either seat...
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Old 13th Feb 2021, 01:10
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Bus Driver Man

You raise a good point, but I'm going to be deliberately difficult, and ask- should an airline pilot not be able to successfully fly down to CAT1 mins? The FD was on. Not exactly high workload.
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Old 13th Feb 2021, 01:23
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Avherald says

The flight director continues to indicate necessity to descend, the captain following the indications increased the descent to 2680 fpm, the aircraft reaches a pitch of 8 degrees nose down
Unless I'm misreading this, they were slightly low on the GS (given the VS), but the CA following the FD to 8 degrees nose down is what really got them into a mess. Am I missing something?
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Old 13th Feb 2021, 02:07
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Check Airman

I'll have a pop if you please?

Of course they should be able to do it, but the fact remains that it does seem odd to choose a 200ft cloud base as the day to try it given the year we've all had. Added to that, landing on a wet snow (albeit lightly) covered runway. I'm pretty familiar with Moscow and this time of year, the weather is certainly mixed. However, it does go from incredibly rubbish, to downright lovely. A crew that was likely based probably had decent options for better days to find out. Don't forget that whilst the captain themselves might be happy to FLY the approach down to minimums on a hard marginal day, are they confident/sure that the FO is comfortable and recent enough to really monitor it effectively? Here they clearly weren't as the GPWS did the PMs job for them.

Considering that most/all of us are likely very much on the wrong side of optimum proficiency at the moment, perhaps a wiser operational decision might have been made. Sadly, most guys at my airline are doing just 4 sectors once every 3 months, along with a sim every six to keep their licenses clean and polished. My flying has gone from 6-750hrs a year of time in the air to about 200hrs in the past 12 months and I'm probably one of the luckier ones. Most CPs/FOs are on far less, many also under 1500hrs TT - as is the nature of European short haul flying (see alternative threads for discussion!).

Not sure what the aviation market in Russia is like during covid, but in Europe, it has literally ground to an almost complete halt. For example, my base has nearly 80 A319/20/21s in it and is commercially operating just 7 commercial rotations today with 0 non-commercial flights. Judging by FlightRadar24, recenecy in Europe must be significantly worse than the apparent US baseline. You say 'not exactly high workload', but perhaps for someone who is legally current on the aircraft, though flying just 50hrs in the last 12 months, it might be far harder than you imagine.

Don't misinterpret this as me excusing this mistake, it is clearly inexcusable. But I'm just highlighting that perhaps we might all do well to consider moving the goal posts as to what we think is an appropriate level of automation on a marginal day given the reality of 2020/2021. It's very easy to forget about what the guy to the right (or left!) of you might be comfortable with under the circumstances, especially if you're lucky enough yourself to have done a lot of flying in the last year.
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Old 13th Feb 2021, 05:42
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You raise good points. Ones we can all relate to. I'd argue that with the decreased flying, there's even more reason to use the chance to keep the raw data skills polished. In light of the crappy weather, I think it's reasonable to turn the FD on though.

If my understanding of the incident is correct (that the PF followed the FD to 8 degrees nose down), it should be a wake up call to those of us who "practice hand flying" with the FD on. A totally pointless exercise IMO. Had the CA in question flown raw data more regularly, I have a strong suspicion the flight would have been uneventful.

On the topic of the PM...if you're not comfortable or proficient enough to monitor an approach, you really shouldn't be in a cockpit at all.
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Old 13th Feb 2021, 07:24
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I think what giggitygiggity is suggesting is that for all aviators flying is a perishable skill. Those that have their personal hubris-hounds (we all have those) firmly collared and leashed, and acknowledge that their skillz might currently be on the down-lo, have a marginally better chance of one day lying peacefully in the sunshine sipping their pina colada.
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Old 13th Feb 2021, 09:49
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263kts at 480' is pretty sporty, 285 in the GA is well shy of the record, I think the B744 at VMO+60 at 3000' on a GA would be hard to beat. (As the B744 AP was engaged, that was a new data point for BCAG). Should be interesting debrief at Lubyanka square.
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Old 13th Feb 2021, 14:24
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Check Airman

I agree that all pilots should be able to fly manually down to CAT1 minima. Especially with the FD. And that all pilots should be able to monitor this as PM. But this was clearly not the case here.

Manual flight with a ceiling at the minima, especially with a lack of recency, does not show good airmanship to me. The chance of a go-around is very high, and those have gone wrong far too often. Should all pilots not be able to manually fly a go-around? Of course, but history has shown that this isn't always the case.

Degrading manual flying skills has caused too many accidents, and I'm against the current industry trend of automation dependency, but this was not the best decision with those Wx conditions as both the PF and PM were not up for the task. However, the OVC 200' could possibly have been mistaken for OVC 200m. But even then, the result would probably have been the same: an unstable approach.

This does show to me, paradoxically, that less restrictions should be imposed by airlines in order to keep or increase our flying skills and that manual flight should be actively encouraged to prevent automation dependency (including FD dependency).
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