Swiftair MD83 at Kandahar on Jan 24th 2012, wing tip strike

Last Update: November 1, 2013 / 18:31:06 GMT/Zulu time

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Incident Facts

Date of incident
Jan 24, 2012


Aircraft Registration

ICAO Type Designator

On Nov 1st 2013 the CIAIAC released their final report concluding the probable causes of the accident were:

The accident was likely caused by the failure to observe the company’s operating procedures and not executing a go-around when the approach was clearly not stabilized. Moreover, the operator lacked the authorization (and the crew the training) to carry out the RNAV (GPS) approach maneuver that was conducted at RWY 05 of the Kandahar Airport.

Contributing to the accident was:

• The inoperable status of the PAPI at runway 05 of the Kandahar Airport, which was thus unable to aid the crew to establish the aircraft on the correct descent slope.

The CIAIAC reported that the captain provided testimony that he did not notice anything unusual with regards to the wind. They encountered a head wind with nearly no crosswind component. The approach was entirely stabilized, however, in the flare the aircraft drifted slightly to the left threatening to take them off the runway, hence he corrected by rolling the aircraft to the right. Even though they were drifting a bit they were always aligned with the runway.

The first officer provided testimony that when they were fully established over the runway a strong gust from the right pushed them left of the center line, in the attempt to correct the captain rolled the aircraft right, the first officer believed they might have struck the ground with the right wing as result.

The tower controller provided testimony that he saw an unusual bright light appear south of the runway, he wasn't sure whether this was an aircraft or vehicle and looked up the radar screen seeing the MD-83 was lined up over the extended runway center line. Subsequently he saw the aircraft emerge out of the dust (1200 meters visibility) about 50-100 feet above ground in the final approach area making quick corrections, he decided to radio anything as the aircraft was in a critical phase of flight, but he called out aloud to alert his two collegues in the tower. He then saw sparks coming from the aircraft as if a wing tip had struck the runway. The aircraft continued landing and rolled out. When the aircraft rolled past the tower he could see the wing was bent, he alerted emergency services and took over the control position from the controller in training. He instructed the crew to hold position after vacating the runway at taxiway C, emergency services would check them out.

The CIAIAC complained that the crew did not make any effort to preserve the cockpit voice recorder able to store 30 minutes of cockpit audio, the recordings were lost while maintenance was analysing the damage.

The CIAIAC analysed based on wind data recordings that the aircraft encountered a crosswind component of 2 knots gusting up to 2.44 knots and said: " In light of these values, the approach cannot be regarded as having taken place in crosswind conditions (a finding that is confirmed by the pilots’ statements)."

The CIAIAC analysed that when the aircraft went through 1000 feet AGL during the instrument approach, the stabilized criteria were not met at that gate and the approach should have been abandoned. At that point the aircraft was right of the runway center line requiring a subsequent 20 degrees turn to the left to correct after the crew became visual with the runway about 500 feet above minimums.

In addition the CIAIAC analysed that while descending through 1000 feet the aircraft should have been between Vref and Vref+20, between 135 and 155 knots, however did 192 KIAS, therefore another reason to abort the approach and go-around.

The CIAIAC said in their analysis: "The statements of the control tower controller also confirmed that when the aircraft was within visual range, it was in an unusual position (too low), so much so that he wondered whether it was a car’s headlights that he was seeing."

The CIAIAC analysed that during the short final the roll angles were excessive from -25 degrees (left) to +20 degrees to the right. It is likely the spoilers deflected asymmetrically to support roll with the control wheels deflected at more than 5 degrees.

The wingtip made contact with the ground about 20 meters before the runway threshold at a speed of 122 KIAS and an instant vertical speed of -720 feet per minute, the aircraft was rolled right at 20 degrees of bank angle and 9 degrees of nose up pitch angle. Following impact the bank angle reduced from 20 to 5 degrees within one second, the right wing still impacted the runway threshold lights and took out five of them.

Three safety recommendations were issued to Swiftair as result of the investigation.
Incident Facts

Date of incident
Jan 24, 2012


Aircraft Registration

ICAO Type Designator

This article is published under license from Avherald.com. © of text by Avherald.com.
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