Swiss RJ1H at Luxembourg on Jul 21st 2016, hard landing
Last Update: October 18, 2018 / 13:02:10 GMT/Zulu time
Switzerland's SUST reported the crew lost visual contact with the runway 06 due to intense downpour while descending through 50 feet, the aircraft subsequently touched down at +2.66G (editorial note: the initial notification leaves open, whether the hard touchdown occurred on go around or second landing). The occurrence was rated a serious incident and is being investigated by SUST.
On Oct 18th 2018 the SUST (English also STSB) released their final summary report, dated Jun 27th 2017, concluding the investigation into the serious incident as follows:
The flight weather forecasts on which the flight preparation was based did not present the prospect of any thunderstorm activity for Luxembourg, but rather only light, transient showers. Weather that would allow unproblematic flying was forecast for the alternate airport, Brussels. Against this backdrop, the flight crew¡¦s decision to carry extra fuel for 20 further minutes of flight time is understandable, but it meant that there was relatively little time available to assess the situation when weather conditions developed differently than expected.
However, the same flight weather forecasts also included information on the presence of thunderstorm clouds (CBs) at Luxembourg Airport. This incident shows once again that the forecasting of thunderstorm activity for a given place and a given time is inherently fraught with great uncertainty. For the flight preparation phase, this means that when expecting thunderstorm clouds, you must also expect corresponding weather phenomena.
Aborting the first approach due to the unexpected thunderstorm activity over Luxembourg Airport was appropriate for the situation and safety-conscious. The fuel supply was sufficient to enable subsequent entry into a holding pattern and a reassessment of the situation.
The second approach was made at the suggestion of air traffic control, shortly after the pilot had informed them that he could only stay in the holding pattern for another five minutes due to the amount of fuel available. Subsequently, by the time that LX 758 was landing, the storm that was only moving slowly away to the east had not yet moved as far away from the airport as air traffic control had obviously expected. The spontaneous formation of a daughter cell over the threshold of runway 06 contributed to this.
The fact that the fuel supply would have necessitated a diversion to Brussels in the event of a second go-around, that the pilot controlled the aircraft himself, manually, and that the runway was visible throughout the entire approach lead to the conclusion that the flight crew were focused on landing during the approach. As a result, at the end of the instrument approach they found themselves in a situation in which the weather conditions neither permitted a landing by visual flight rules, nor made a go-around seem favourable, because the flight path for the go-around would have led them through an active storm cell.
As a final point, it should be noted that maintaining flight operations at an airport where heavy thunderstorms with rain (+TSRA) are the prevalent weather conditions, as was the case at the time of the landing, involves fundamental risks which ¡V as this serious incident shows ¡V are often very difficult to assess.
In summary, the Swiss Transportation Safety Investigation Board has concluded that the serious incident under investigation is an event that is mainly attributable to individual judgements, which proved to be incorrect. There are no discernible systemic aspects that could in all probability result in such an incident being repeated. Based on article 45 of the Ordinance on the Safety Investigation of Transport Incidents (OSITI), the STSB will therefore not proceed with any further investigation work and concludes the investigation with this summary report.
The SUST reported the sequence of events:
During the flight, the pilot, in his function as the pilot monitoring, made a handwritten note on the operational flight plan of the following ATIS2 report from Luxembourg Airport with the identifier November (N), which still contained the observation of good weather for the airport at the time (15:50 UTC):
„h ATIS N: 1550Z RW24 TL050 07001KT 050V140 9999 SCT039 26/17 Q1016 TEMPO TSRA SCT030CB
Subsequently, the flight crew prepared for an instrument approach to runway 24 at Luxembourg Airport. The ATIS was updated several times and in quick succession due to thunderstorm activity that was approaching from the south-west and increasing in intensity:
„h ATIS O: 1603Z RW24 TL050 12002KT 070V150 9999 -TSRA BKN037CB 26/18 Q1016 TEMPO TSRA SCT030CB
„h ATIS P: 1606Z RW24 TL050 14002KT 080V170 2000 TSRA BKN035CB 26/19 Q1016 TEMPO TSRA SCT030CB
At 16:07:14 UTC, the flight crew received clearance for an instrument approach to runway 24.
Half a minute later, the ATIS report with the identifier Quebec (Q) was broadcast for the first time, which showed a heavy thunderstorm with rain over the airport:
„h ATIS Q: 1608Z RW24 TL050 16002KT 080V210 1000 R24/P2000/P2000/1100 +TSRA SCT012 BKN035CB 25/18 Q1016 TEMPO TSRA SCT030CB
At 16:08:35 UTC, air traffic control relayed the following information to the flight crew, ¡§Swiss 78X just for information, we have a heavy shower now overhead the field. If you want to hold and wait just let me know, otherwise report established.¡¨ Shortly afterwards, air traffic control defined the situation more precisely by stating, ¡§It¡¦s pretty heavy rain now with very bad visibility, with a little bit of hail in there.¡¨
Based on the information from air traffic control, the pilot decided to abort the approach and enter the Diekirch holding pattern. The ATIS was subsequently updated once more and, from the report with the identifier Sierra (S), also showed particularly strong gusts of wind combined with very poor visibility in addition to the storm activity:
„h ATIS R: 1612Z RW24 TL050 18002KT 100V220 800 R24/P2000/P2000/1400 +TSRA FEW012 BKN035CB 25/19 Q1016 TEMPO TSRA SCT030CB
„h ATIS S: 1619Z RW24 TL050 25029KT 140V270 MIN01KT MAX50KT 3000 R24/400/800/900 TSRA FEW011 BKN036CB 18/16 Q1017 TEMPO TSRA SCT030CB
At 16:19:40 UTC, the pilot informed air traffic control that he could only stay in the holding pattern for another five minutes before he would have to fly to the diversion airport, Brussels.
Subsequently, air traffic control suggested an approach to runway 06 at 16:21:42 UTC, ¡§[...] the wind is on runway 06, and as the west is better than the east, I can offer you 06 if you want to try.¡¨ Moments later they added, ¡§[...] but for the time being, as the CB [thunderstorm cloud]
just passed, the wind changed a bit, so it¡¦s 060 degrees 14, below the CB.¡¨
The flight crew agreed with the suggestion and requested radar vectoring for an approach to runway 06. This request was granted without delay at 16:22:33 UTC. The pilot took over the role of pilot flying. Shortly afterwards, the ATIS was updated once again:
„h ATIS T: 1624Z RW06 TL050 25029KT 140V270 MIN01KT MAX50KT 3000 R06/900/800/400 TSRA FEW011 BKN036CB 18/16 Q1017 TEMPO TSRA BKN030CB
At 16:24:55 UTC, air traffic control informed another aircraft of a surface wind from 060 degrees at 6 kt. At 16:26:48 UTC, the flight crew received the approach clearance for the instrument approach to runway 06. From 16:26:53 UTC, the ATIS report with the identifier Uniform (U) was broadcast, which showed a wind that had turned to the east and an ongoing moderate thunderstorm with rain as well as poor visibility towards the end of the runway:
„h ATIS U: 1627Z RW06 TL050 08013KT 040V100 6000 R06/P2000/2000/1000 TSRA FEW006 BKN022CB 18/15 Q1017 TEMPO TSRA BKN030CB
Throughout the entire final approach, the flight crew had the runway in sight. Due to highly variable winds and turbulence, the pilot decided to carry out the final approach without the autopilot. At 16:28:55 UTC, the landing clearance was issued and, at the same time, wind direction and force were provided as 130 degrees and 6 kt respectively. Immediately afterwards, the following ATIS report was broadcast, which indicated a renewed intensification of the thunderstorm activity:
„h ATIS V: 1629Z RW06 TL050 09011KT 040V130 MIN07KT MAX21KT 3000
R06/P2000/P2000/1200 +TSRA FEW006 BKN022CB 18/15 Q1017 TEMPO TSRA BKN030CB
During the short final approach, visibility increasingly deteriorated due to heavy precipitation.
At the minimum for the instrument approach, at an altitude of 200 ft above the runway, visual references were still good enough to continue the approach. However, shortly before touchdown ¡V at approximately 50 ft above the runway ¡V visibility deteriorated to such an extent that it was no longer possible to perform the landing in a controlled manner by visual references.
At 16:30:00 UTC, the aircraft made a hard landing on the runway. No passengers or crew members were hurt and as a hard landing check showed, the aircraft remained undamaged.
Evaluation of the flight data
The flight data recordings showed a stable final approach to runway 06. The landing flare was initiated slightly too early, with the result that it passed over the runway threshold at a radar height of 65 ft and with a sink rate of approximately 300 ft per minute. The headwind component over the runway threshold was 5 kt and then gradually decreased until it turned into a tailwind component of 3 kt shortly before touchdown. The aircraft touched down 678 m after the runway threshold with a vertical acceleration of 2.66 g.
ELLX 211850Z 05011KT 020V080 9999 FEW005 SCT034CB BKN050 18/17 Q1017 RESHRA NOSIG=
ELLX 211820Z 06012KT 9999 FEW012 SCT040CB BKN047 18/18 Q1017 RETSRA TEMPO SHRA BKN030CB=
ELLX 211750Z 05012KT 7000 R06/P2000N -TSRA FEW012 BKN038CB 18/18 Q1017 TEMPO SHRA BKN030CB=
ELLX 211720Z 17006KT 140V240 2000 +TSRA FEW012 BKN032CB 18/17 Q1017 TEMPO TSRA BKN030CB=
ELLX 211650Z 16009KT 100V240 1000 +TSRA FEW010 BKN021CB 18/17 Q1017 TEMPO TSRA BKN030CB=
ELLX 211620Z VRB13G26KT 3000 R24/0350VP2000D TSRA FEW011 BKN036CB 17/16 Q1016 TEMPO TSRA BKN030CB=
ELLX 211550Z 06002KT 9999 SCT039CB 26/17 Q1016 TEMPO TSRA SCT030CB=
ELLX 211520Z VRB01KT 9999 SCT039CB 26/17 Q1016=
ELLX 211450Z 23005KT 150V290 9999 FEW036TCU 27/17 Q1016 NOSIG=
ELLX 211420Z 21003KT 160V270 9999 FEW035TCU 26/17 Q1016 NOSIG=
ELLX 211350Z VRB03KT 9999 FEW035 26/17 Q1016 NOSIG=
Aircraft Registration Data
This article is published under license from Avherald.com. © of text by Avherald.com.
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