China Eastern A320 at Wenzhou on Mar 20th 2011, clipped trees on approach

Last Update: April 5, 2020 / 17:01:25 GMT/Zulu time

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Incident Facts

Date of incident
Mar 20, 2011

Classification
Incident

Flight number
MU-5577

Destination
Wenzhou, China

Aircraft Registration
B-2400

Aircraft Type
Airbus A320

ICAO Type Designator
A320

The crew of a China Eastern Airlines Airbus A320-200, registration B-2400 performing flight MU-5577 from Shanghai Hongqiao to Wenzhou (China), had prepared for an ILS/DME runway 03 approach to Wenzhou based on ATIS broadcast. Upon initial contact with Wenzhou approach the crew was told however that winds had changed and runway 21 was now in use, the aircraft was subsequently cleared for the VOR/DME approach to runway 21. On tower the crew was reminded by tower that their minimum descent altitude (MDA) was 120 meters/394 feet (116 meters/381 feet AGL). Upon reaching MDA the crew had visual contact with the runway established, continued the approach still on autopilot and descended below MDA, but then lost visual contact. At the 50 feet call by GPWS both crew were able to see the ground but did not see the runway, the first officer called go-around twice, the captain disengaged the autopilot and initiated a go-around at around 12:10L (04:10Z). The airplane climbed out, positioned for another approach and landed safely.

A post flight inspection found scratch marks on the right main landing gear, slats and flaps of right main wing and the inlet of the right hand engine (CFM-56). An inspection of the right hand engine revaled damage (dents sized up to 0.2 mm) to all 36 fan blades, scratch marks (13cm in length) at and twigs embedded in the oil discharge.

Following cleaning, thorough examination of the airframe, borescopic inspection and repairs of the right engine the aircraft was able to return to service 6 days later.

China's Civil Aviation Authority (CAAC) reported that a low level cloud bank with cloud ceiling at 90 meters/295 feet MSL was moving inland from the sea causing the visibility to drop below 2000 meters. The autopilot was disconnected at an altitude of 104 feet (radar height 38 feet) and a go-around initiated, the radar height reduced to 10 feet until the airplane began to climb again. The CAAC said, that the crew did not immediately discontinue the approach after losing visual reference but tried their luck by continuing on autopilot until the "50 feet" call, only then the go-around was initiated. Due to the late decision by the crew the right hand wing, right hand engine and right hand main gear impacted and clipped treetops outside the airport perimeter. An investigation of the serious incident is under way.

No Metars are available.

On Apr 5th 2020 The Aviation Herald was able to obtain the Chinese text of the final report, which concludes the probable cause of the serious incident was:

human factors causing a serious incident involving a transport aircraft suffering a controlled collision with terrain.

The CAAC reported the crew had reviewed the weather conditions at Wenzhou before departure from Shanghai, based on the information available then the crew concluded a VOR/DME approach to runway 21 would be conducted. Enroute the crew received updated weather information indicating the active runway had changed to 03 with the newly installed ILS/DME runway 03 becoming available, the crew thus briefed for an ILS approach to runway 03. When the crew contacted Wenzhou approach however, approach informed them that runway 21 had become active again due to wind changes, a VOR/DME approach to runway 21 would occur. The crew rebriefed for an VOR/DME approach to runway 21, the briefing however did not include the go around procedure. The crew was cleared for the approach, approach control reminded them the Minimum Descent Altitude (MDA) was 120 meters (394 feet), surface winds were at 180 degrees and 4 m/s (8 knots). The aircraft performed the final approach, at MDA the first officer reported visual contact with the runway, the captain thus continued the approach, the autopilot was still engaged tracking 210 degrees. Shortly after descending through the MDA the aircraft entered cloud, the crew changed the heading bug to 204 degrees. When the GPWS sounded "50 feet", both pilots saw the ground but no runway and initiated a go around, the captain disconnected the autopilot at that point. Following the go around the crew performed an ILS approach to runway 03 and landed without further incident.

A post flight inspection revealed foreign objects in right landing gear, right engine and right wing. The fan blades (a total of 36) of the right hand engine shows scratch marks and rubbing marks at the blade tips. A branch of 13cm length and diameter 1cm was found in the residual oil discharge port.

At the time of the serious incident three low clouds were observed, cloud base at 90 meters height, visibility 2000 meters, ahead and slightly right of the runway preventing the crew to see the runway after descending through the MDA.

The CAAC analysed that after the aircraft entered cloud below MDA an immediate go around should have occurred. The crew however continued the approach reaching a minimum height of 38 feet radio altitude (104 feet MSL) violating the provisions of "General Operations and Flight Rules". The continuation of the approach despite entering cloud may have been the result of inadequate preparation (briefing) by the crew, the crew attempted to regain visual contact with the runway steering on the autopilot until the 50 feet call by the GPWS. Coinciding with the 50 feet call by the GPWS the crew gained visual contact with the ground but no runway and initiated the go around. After the aircraft entered cloud the crew lost situational awareness and attempted to correct the flight track blindly. The incomplete re-briefing lacking the go around and clear crew assignment caused both crews to use non-standard calls at the MDA, and after visual contact with the runway was lost, both crew looked out for the runway and the first officer thus did not immediately call for a go around.
Incident Facts

Date of incident
Mar 20, 2011

Classification
Incident

Flight number
MU-5577

Destination
Wenzhou, China

Aircraft Registration
B-2400

Aircraft Type
Airbus A320

ICAO Type Designator
A320

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