Go Back  PPRuNe Forums > Flight Deck Forums > Tech Log
Reload this Page >

LH A320 Rough Landing @ Hamburg

Tech Log The very best in practical technical discussion on the web

LH A320 Rough Landing @ Hamburg

Old 4th Mar 2008, 00:33
  #161 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: BC
Age: 71
Posts: 2,406

The ELAC upgrade occured a number of years ago now. It was discovered that the aileron control was a bit too aggressive in Config Full and that in gusty, (possible shear) conditions, Airbus recommended Config 3 vice Config Full for the landing. Although the following article deals more with the ALPHA protection, it may lend some insights into the ELAC change itself. Here is what I found on a quick google. There will be others here who will perhaps take this further. For those who may need it, I offer the caution that this is taken off the internet and I can't verify it's accuracy.

This information is historical in nature and not intended for current operations. As always, the AOM is the only reference.

Software Changes Being Made to Help Prevent Landing Mishaps

A February 7 landing accident of an Iberia A320 in Spain has prompted manufacturer Airbus Industrie to develop a modification to its flight control software. It will prevent the airplane's built-in protection against stall from being activated by a high rate of change in angle of attack.

The software change is intended to help pilots safely land their airplanes in gusty wind conditions, as was the case in the accident.

It has been widely reported in other media that Airbus was expanding the allowable angle of attack (AOA) the pilots could apply in its computer- controlled fly-by-wire A320/A319 aircraft. This is not the case. Rather, the modification returns to the threshold AOA criterion for stall protection that was certified originally in 1988.

Until the software change is distributed to the fleet, Airbus has advised A319 and A320 operators to maintain a higher speed when landing in gusty wind conditions and to limit landing slats and trailing edge flaps to Configuration 3. At this setting, one step short of full slat/flap deployment, the slats are at 22? and the flaps are at 20?. The guidance applies to a worldwide A319/A320 fleet of some 1,270 aircraft.

In related action, the French DGAC (Direction Generale de l'Aviation Civile) issued an airworthiness directive (AD) in early April requiring A320/A319 operators to fly at least 10 knots faster and to use only a setting of "CONFIG 3" during approach with gusts higher than 10 knots or when moderate to severe turbulence is expected on short final. The AD also mandates an immediate go-around if the GPWS "Sink rate" alert sounds below 200 feet. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued comparable guidance, contained in AD-2001- 08-26, which has an effective date of May 11. This is only part of the interim story. Both the French and the U.S. ADs are being modified to permit autoland operations without flap restrictions under the same environmental conditions.

The Airbus software change deals with the so-called "alpha protection" designed into the airplane's computerized flight control system to prevent excessive angles of attack. The alpha protection, designed to guard against stalling the airplane, is one of the crown jewels of the Airbus flight control system.

Since the advent of the fly-by-wire A320 in 1988, Airbus officials have hailed the added margin of safety provided by their alpha protection feature. In the approach to stall regime, alpha protection limits the amount of pitch-up that can be commanded, thereby preventing too high an angle of attack (AOA). Should the situation deteriorate further in the approach to stall regime, the alpha floor protection also will apply take-off go-around thrust (TOGA).

In the Iberia case, two aspects of the alpha protection feature apply. One is the angle of attack (AOA). The flight control laws programmed into the computers will not allow the aircraft to exceed a predetermined AOA, based on the aircraft's weight and configuration.

The other aspect governing alpha protection is the rate at which AOA is allowed to change before reaching the protection limit. The alpha protection is triggered by two combined conditions: a threshold AOA and the rate of AOA change. To change the outcome in dynamic wind conditions near the ground, Airbus plans to modify the software to eliminate pitch rate as a controlling factor in alpha protection. In plain language, with the rate of change in the value of AOA being removed, the modification basically reverts the software to an earlier standard where pitch rate was not part of alpha protection (the pitch-rate limitation was installed as a result of post-1988 flight tests). The software change, contrary to some reports, does not alter the allowable AOA. However, Airbus officials said the change stems directly from the Bilbao accident. By implication, pilots will have a greater ability to control the rate of pitch change, which should help them to better cope with dynamic wind conditions during landing.

Accident details
During a nighttime flight from Barcelona to Bilbao, the pilots of Iberia (Iberia Lineas Aereas de Espana) Flight 1456 were planning to land their A320 with 136 passengers and seven crew on Runway 30 at Bilbao's Sondica Airport. As it was a training flight, there were three pilots in the cockpit.

During their final ILS approach, the aircraft encountered heavy turbulence at about 200 feet above the ground (AGL). With gusts up to 65 mph., the winds were much more severe than the 9-10 mph winds at 240? with light turbulence initially reported to the crew. The aircraft encountered a 1.25G updraft, then below 150 ft. the airplane encountered a potent downdraft. The first officer as the pilot flying (PF) pulled back his sidestick to arrest the rate of descent. The downdraft was followed by a tailwind gust as the aircraft was just 70 feet AGL.

The dramatic and sudden shifts in wind direction and intensity are the classic symptoms of windshear. The airport is not equipped with windshear detection technology, although Spanish pilots reportedly have been calling for its installation. The Iberia crew had not been advised previously by local control that three aircraft had tried unsuccessfully to land at Bilbao and had diverted to their planned alternates. Sources advise that the airport's conditions contributed to two other weather-related accidents during the preceding 15 days and to three other accidents in the previous five months.

When the Ground Proximity Warning System (GPWS) alerted the crew with a "Sink rate" warning, the captain called for a go-around while pulling on the sidestick - reportedly without pressing his priority control button.
Protection triggered

The combination of dynamic winds and crew actions created a situation that triggered the airplane's alpha protection system. As the crew applied TOGA power for a go-around, with both pilots pulling back on their sidesticks, the alpha protection law reduced the elevator nose-up command. Instead of a go- around, the aircraft struck the runway with a vertical speed Airbus officials relate was some 1,200 feet per minute (fpm). The airplane would normally descend at a rate of about 500-600 fpm and, depending on the pilot's skills and his discretion in the last moment during flare, it would descend at a rate of 50-120 fpm. The 1,200 fpm descent rate translates to about 20 feet per second, slightly less than the certification requirement of 21.3 feet per second.

In the landing at Bilbao, the main gear and the nose landing gear all struck at virtually the same time, and the nose gear collapsed under the force of impact (one report, unconfirmed, has the airplane bouncing once and the nose gear collapsing on the second impact). The airplane continued some 3,280 feet down the runway before coming to a stop. During the subsequent emergency evacuation, some of the crew and four passengers received minor injuries. One passenger, a 75-year old woman, was hospitalized. The aircraft, only six months old, received substantial damage to the engine nacelles and the wing structure. Sources say it may be a total loss.

The accident is being investigated by the Spanish CIAI (Comision de Investigacion de Accidents e Incidentes). This body may have its work cut out for it. No two of the publicly available descriptions of the final sequence of events agree. As one veteran A320 pilot remarked, "There is a lot going on here." Consider, he said, there's (1) windshear. (2) The aircraft is below 50 feet. (3) The aircraft is in the flare mode. (4) Take off go-around (TOGA) has been commanded. (5) Both sidesticks are being pulled back without use of the priority button. As he put the matter colorfully, using a "rope" metaphor to describe the aircraft's computerized flight control system, in the Bilbao accident "there are five guys pulling on the rope."

'Strictly Adhere' To These Procedures
Extracts of Airbus Industrie Operations Engineering Bulletin No. 146/1
Reason for issue: An A320 operator encountered a case of unexpected activation of high AOA protection during flare.

The AOA protection law can be triggered by AOAs lower than the stated threshold due to the advance phase term introduced in ELAC (elevator/aileron computer) L80. This advance term is only activated by sidestick input...

The combination of specific wind gradient/updraft and pilot inputs...caused the aircraft to enter the high AOA protection, which prevented the normal flare.

Note: During extensive simulator sessions, including simulation of the encountered wind gradient/updraft, it was difficult to reproduce the event, unless specific sidestick inputs were performed in a specific sequence and timeframe. (ASW note: What this is all saying is that under specific gusty conditions, the protection logic could restrict nose-up elevator orders.)

For approach to runways:
With known gusty environments, especially if these conditions generate vertical gusts due to the surrounding terrain,
When the reported gust wind increment (max. wind minus average wind) is greater than 10 kt.
Where moderate to severe turbulence is expected on short final,

The flight crew should strictly adhere to the following procedure:
- Use CONF 3 for approach and landing.
- Minimum VAPP (approach speed) is VLS (lowest selectable speed at CONF 3) + 10 kt. The recommendation to use managed speed remains valid.
- Correct the landing distance for the speed increment (ASW note: With a 20% adjustment in landing distance, this guidance can reduce the choice of airports with limited runway conditions.)
- If the "SINK RATE" GPWS warning occurs below 200 ft., immediately initiate a go-around.

Source: Airbus

The Changes Explained

Airbus Industrie responds to the pertinent questions:

ASW: What is being changed?
Airbus: As presently implemented, the logic that triggers the Alpha Protection law is based on two values: Angle of Attack (Alpha), and the rate at which Alpha is changing. This latter term was added to the logic recently (two years ago) as part of an enhancement of the aircraft behavior following some flight test work showing that very aggressive pitch inputs could result in transient exceedance of alpha max. However, as the experience at Bilbao demonstrated, this additional rate, or anticipatory term, could prematurely trigger alpha protection law under a very specific set of circumstances, viz., a combination of severe vertical and horizontal gusts and aggressive flight control inputs, that could result in a hard landing. To minimize the probability of this, the decision was made to revert to a definition close to the previous one; i.e., alpha protection will be triggered only by alpha, with the rate of change term deleted.

ASW: Is the change being made as an outgrowth of the accident at Bilbao?
Airbus: Yes, the decision to delete the rate term was made directly as a result of the experience at Bilbao.

ASW: If it does not affect AOA, why is the stretch A321 not affected?
Airbus: The A321 is not affected because the logic change for alpha protection was never made on the A321; due to the dynamic response characteristics of the longer fuselage on that aircraft, the issue noted during the flight tests mentioned above did not apply. (ASW note: the A320 is 123 ft. long (37.57m), and the A321 is 146 ft. long (44.51m). The angle between the ground and the tailcone on the A320 is 13.3?, and the angle from the ground to the tailcone on the longer A321 is 11.13?)

ASW: If the change is a reversion to previous software, why does it need approval of the certifying authorities?
Airbus: Certification is of the entire Elevator Aileron Computer (ELAC) software package. In the new standard the only change is the alpha protection law, however it is still necessary to re-certify the entire Elevator and Aileron Computer (ELAC) software package.

ASW: How would this change have helped to prevent the accident at Bilbao?
Airbus: Analysis of the Bilbao data has shown that alpha protection law was triggered by a very specific combination of environmental factors including vertical gusts and wind shear, and pilot inputs. As noted previously, this unique combination of circumstances triggered alpha protection because one of the two logic conditions that could trigger alpha protection was met: a very high rate of change of alpha along with large amplitude side stick inputs from the pilots. In the absence of this rate of change term, alpha protection law would not have been triggered. Very precise timing was necessary to reproduce the Bilbao event on a simulator. Intensive simulator and flight tests proved that the new software would have worked as planned in Bilbao.

ASW: From various accounts, the pilots were thwarted in their attempt to go-around. Would not a TOGA command override? Even if their airplane has contacted the runway, as a general proposition aren't the systems designed to allow the pilots to execute a go-around?
Airbus: Because of the premature triggering of alpha protection law caused by the combination of aggressive maneuvering and severe vertical gusts, side stick input was commanding angle of attack, not load factor, as is normally the case. During the Bilbao event, the crew selected TOGA (take off and go- around) thrust, and the engines spooled up to TOGA rating. However, the selection of TOGA thrust has no relation to the fly-by-wire control laws and, therefore, could not result in any "override" of alpha protection. The solution to the problem noted in Bilbao is to avoid the early triggering of alpha protection law in the first place, which is what the new ELAC standard accomplishes.

ASW: When is revised software to be distributed? Will the temporary recommended restrictions in gusty conditions be lifted at that time?
Airbus: Distribution of the revised ELAC standard will begin immediately upon certification. However, due to production and installation time requirements, we estimate it will be as long as one year before the entire fleet of aircraft has been modified. In the meantime, the temporary operating limitations will remain in place for all unmodified aircraft. These restrictions no longer will apply to an airplane once the new ELAC standard has been installed. It should be noted that operating restrictions also do not apply to autoland approaches, and under the terms of the Airbus OEB (Operations Engineering Bulletin), if autoland is otherwise approved, autoland approaches may be made without operating restrictions.

ASW: From what is known, did the Iberia airplane hit alpha protection or alpha max?
Airbus: Due to the early triggering of the alpha protection law in combination with a wind shear encountered after alpha protection was triggered, neither alpha protection nor alpha max was reached. The max value of alpha reached was less than alpha prot or alpha max.

ASW: Somewhere below 150 ft., but it's not clear where, both pilots reportedly pulled full aft side stick (FO was PF). If, say, the captain pulled aft side stick, while overlooking the need to press his priority button, the sum of the two pitch inputs might be greater than alpha max. What would the airplane do: 1) Not respond, 2) go to alpha max, or 3) go to alpha protection and maintain there?
Airbus: Simultaneous side stick inputs are summed only to the point where the command equals the equivalent of a single, full-stick command. In the event of dual side stick inputs that exceed the value of maximum deflection on a single side stick, the aircraft would respond as if there was a single, maximum input on one stick. These inputs were done below 50 ft, two seconds before impact.

ASW: At around 50 ft. AGL, during the transition to landing flare law, the airplane is programmed to nose over about 2? over an 8 second period, using as a reference point the last side stick position. If TOGA has been commanded, would it override, or would this lowering of the nose in the flare somehow conflict with the need for the nose to pitch up to execute a go-around?
Airbus: Phasing in a nose down input during the final stages of a landing is done to give the pilots the "feel" of a normal flare. In order to hold the desired pitch attitude during the flare, the pilot must make increasing aft stick inputs, thus making the aircraft behave conventionally from a pilot's point of view. When TOGA thrust is commanded, the engines spool up to TOGA thrust and the Flight Director provides pitch guidance to the pilot. TOGA thrust selection has no relation with the flare law of the fly-by-wire system and therefore does not affect the 2? nose-over feature.
PJ2 is offline  
Old 4th Mar 2008, 00:49
  #162 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Maine
Posts: 34
Jibe Ho!

That was awful. Sudden loss in altitude on short final. At least or an apparent 30 degrees of heading into the wind? No slip angle, but only to continue to drop (only this time a loss of control to the wings, one, and then the other), steer off and away from the lift, and be overtaken by the cross-wind. Jibe Ho!
E.Z. Flyer is offline  
Old 4th Mar 2008, 01:01
  #163 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Planet Earth
Posts: 109
PJ2, thanks! Great reading.
PA38-Pilot is offline  
Old 4th Mar 2008, 03:52
  #164 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: SFO
Age: 40
Posts: 63
This is all just excellent PR by LH. Call the pilot a hero and tell the media the winds were gusting to 155MPH. Ridiculous!
JuniorMan is offline  
Old 4th Mar 2008, 05:06
  #165 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Europe
Posts: 179
Frankfurter Rundschau (probably the best nationwide newspaper we have, compareable to the Guardian) today ran an interview with the head of Cockpit (the German equivalent of ALPA), who happens to be an LH pilot.
1. the airline does take into account gusts and these are hard limits
2. the approach was legal
3. atc was legal in offering the runway
4. it was all basically plain bad luck
5. it was not all that dramatic or dangerous

This may be a case of a union leader covering a member, but Cockpit has been known to be very strict on safety issues and take on LH if needed. So if all of the above are thruthful, then the limits need examination. How can we allow bad lack to play a role?

Also, from the main article, plane and crew are back in service.

edit: links

article (will disappear after a few days):


Last edited by BRE; 4th Mar 2008 at 06:58.
BRE is offline  
Old 4th Mar 2008, 05:13
  #166 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Southern Shores of Lusitania
Age: 48
Posts: 592
Check these 3 App here resulting in 3 G/A at Shonai Sakata, also due to Nasty Winds:


Same ANA 763...Cool
JanetFlight is offline  
Old 4th Mar 2008, 05:13
  #167 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: EU
Posts: 218
TEMPO= A Temporary change of 2 hours or less is expected during the forecast period
I always thought it's temporary change for a period of less than 60 minutes...
ron83 is offline  
Old 4th Mar 2008, 05:22
  #168 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Out there
Posts: 18
Hard to figure out which was worse - the complete breakdown/lack of ADM or the piss poor technique.

I'm against MMQB as much as anyone - but seriously that was a pathetic display of decision making and flight "skills".
Mr. Maximus is offline  
Old 4th Mar 2008, 06:12
  #169 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Oz
Posts: 645
Check these 3 App here resulting in 3 G/A at Shonai Sakata, also due to Nasty Winds:


Same ANA 763...Cool
FoxtrotAlpha18 is offline  
Old 4th Mar 2008, 06:51
  #170 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: San Jose
Posts: 726
The main problem its that i dont know how to save clips from Youtube to my Disk...i really hope someone had done that...
It's easy on Linux, this will do it. It should also work on Windows if you've got Python (http://www.python.org/download/windows/) installed.

llondel is offline  
Old 4th Mar 2008, 06:56
  #171 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Devon, England
Posts: 244
LH vs AZ (Germany Vs Italy)
For once the Italians can be proud of being more efficient than the Germans...this AZ MD11 did definitely better than the LH A320.

Agreed, but that MD11 pilot adopted the recommended technique of NOT kicking all the drift of until after main wheel touchdown.
manrow is online now  
Old 4th Mar 2008, 07:21
  #172 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Queensland, Australia
Age: 66
Posts: 105
Well, the video has now made it onto Australia TV too...and keeping up the tradition of accurate journalism, here's a new twist:

According the Channel 7 here, the reason the plane was crabbing to the right was that...a gust of wind from the left caught the nose and blew it off line!

...but don't worry. The same report said the wing tip ALMOST touched the ground, but didn't. I guess the damage in those photos was just normal wear and tear! The flight crew were characterised as heroes though but ATC is under investigation for "ordering them to land".

I submit this one as the WORST report so far. It even beats the 150mph winds.

Bobbsy is offline  
Old 4th Mar 2008, 07:21
  #173 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Australia
Posts: 135
A couple of years ago in Melbourne Australia a Thai Airways A340-600 port wing tip hit the runway during gusty conditions.The L/H main gear,wing tip was damaged and a couple of burst tires was the result of this mishap.I was wondering could it be an airbus inherent problem as boeings seem to handle these conditions much better.
satos is offline  
Old 4th Mar 2008, 07:31
  #174 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Itinerant
Posts: 622
To PJ2

Well done.

As a professional in this business I find these forums to be at times enlightening and engaging, while too often uniformed and even juvenile in tone and attitude. If all posts (or even the majority) were half as as good as your last one, these forums would be a great place to spend more time.

Again, bravo and thanks.
grizzled is offline  
Old 4th Mar 2008, 07:35
  #175 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Leverstock Green
Posts: 24
Think this is the story as well

Assuming the BBC did some checks it is available on their front page. Ten minutes later there was a safe landing according to voice over

Nickctaylor is offline  
Old 4th Mar 2008, 07:56
  #176 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: London, England
Posts: 185
Question for Bus drivers-( i will have to leave a comfy 737 for one later in the year)
There seems to be some disagreement between you on this thread about what the stick does at low level, does it command control deflection (direct law? like a boeing) or do you still get roll rate commanded (ie stick central=wings level)? or depends on other factors/no one knows/not sure ?
FatFlyer is offline  
Old 4th Mar 2008, 08:03
  #177 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: denmark
Posts: 3
Great Reporting ...

From The Telegraph (http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/ukcorre...08/germany.htm) "A German passenger jet carrying 137 people has had a narrow escape in an incident reminiscent of the Heathrow crash landing in January." "Reminiscent", presumably, in the sense that they both involved passenger jets trying to land at European airports. I'm finding it hard to think of any other similarities, except possibly that the number of people on board was in three digits in each case. The Telegraph also repeats the claim of 155mph winds. http://www.pprune.org/forums/images/...n_rolleyes.gif Maybe somebody thought the knots were actually metres per second and doubled them to get miles per hour???
csrster is offline  
Old 4th Mar 2008, 08:18
  #178 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: home
Posts: 1,335
FCOM 1.27.20 A320 series.

When the aircraft is in the "in flight" mode, normal law combines control of the ailerons, spoilers (except N 1 spoilers), and rudder (for turn coordination) in the sidestick. While the system thereby gives the pilot control of the roll and heading, it also limits the roll rate and bank angle, coordinates the turns, and damps the dutch roll.

The roll rate requested by the pilot during flight is proportional to the sidestick deflection, with a maximum rate of 15 per second when the sidestick is at the stop.

When the aircraft is in "flare" mode, the lateral control is the same as in "in flight" mode.

After touchdown, the aircraft smoothly transitions from "in flight" mode to "ground" mode.
So no change until after touchdown.
Right Way Up is offline  
Old 4th Mar 2008, 08:23
  #179 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Germany
Posts: 533
Originally Posted by FatFlyer

There seems to be some disagreement between you on this thread about what the stick does at low level, does it command control deflection (direct law? like a boeing) or do you still get roll rate commanded
Here's what the FCOM has to say on crosswind landings in the landing SOP (may be slightly different for different carriers ...):

Originally Posted by FCOM 3.03.22, P 4, SEQ 105, REV 36
Routine use of into wind aileron is not recommended, because sidestick deflection commands the roll rate until touchdown.
I. e. as the airbus pilots here have said, roll control stays in normal law until touchdown, "flare mode" superimposes a nose-down movement over the pitch stick deflection (load-factor demand).

(ie stick central=wings level)?
That is not quite accurate. Stick centered means, bank angle stays where it is up to 33 degrees, or returns to 33 degrees if it was more.

bsieker is online now  
Old 4th Mar 2008, 08:46
  #180 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Tunbridge Wells, UK
Age: 41
Posts: 109
Reported on GMTV this morning and pilot hailed a 'hero'.
TurboTomato is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us Archive Advertising Cookie Policy Privacy Statement Terms of Service

Copyright 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.