GoAir Balked Landing (Passenger Video)
Passenger videos often appear scarier than the circumstances warrant, amplified by a lack of aviation experience to know how dangerous the situation actually is. This one is the clear exception to the rule.
This video was taken on Monday on GoAir flight G8-811D, a scheduled commercial flight from Nagpur to Bangladore with 180 passengers on board. It was posted in response to a news post stating that the aircraft landed outside the runway due to bad weather.
The passenger who took the video was quick to defend the flight crew on Twitter:
Yes the flight missed the runway but it didn't land there … The pilot saved us by taking off and ultimately landing in Hyderabad. I was on that flight.
Yes the flight missed the runway but it didn't land there … The pilot saved us by taking off and ultimately landing in Hyderabad. I was on that flight. pic.twitter.com/u8ha2HVX1k
— Shafeeq Hamza (@shamza) November 14, 2019
The thing is, although I appreciate the praise of the pilot, flights don’t just “miss the runway”…pilots do.
Mud on the left gear and tracks to the left runway confirms that the Airbus A320 touched down on the grass. According to the passenger, the pilot, presumably the captain, announced that he wasn’t comfortable landing because of the fog. Which is fair enough other than the fact that he did, in fact, land, if we count a touch-and-go (which I seem to recall I was always charged for as if it were a full landing). The wheel tracks alongside the runway last about 200 metres (650 feet).
Some news articles have claim the crew were suspended for their actions but as far as I can see, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the Indian aviation body, are still investigating. The aircraft and the flight crew have been grounded pending the outcome, which is normal procedure.
Indian press reported that the number one engine stalled twice during the go around.
The Hindu: GoAir flight veers off runway, DGCA probing incident
Due to bad weather at Bengaluru, the aircraft initiated a go around. During the go around process engine number 1 stalled. The power on the affected engine was reduced to idle and go around was continued. During climb number 1 engine again stalled and power was again reduced to idle. The aircraft was then diverted to Hyderabad with power on number 1 engine in climb detent,” an official said.
However The Aviation Herald’s incident report initially claimed that there’s no DGCA statement to confirms this.
A number of (but not all) media in India claim an unnamed source associated with the DGCA reported the left hand engine (PW1127G) stalled during the go around. On social media one journalist even claims to quote a statement by DGCA (editorial note: showing a blank sheet of paper with text, but no letter head, signature or other indication of any official document, no such document is available on any of the DGCA outlets), callsign of the aircraft was GOW811, no D attached to the flight number…
However, nine minutes after I quoted the above for this post, their report was amended to include a DGCA statement confirming the engine stall.
On 11.11.2019 Go Air A320 aircraft VT-WGR operated flight G8-811D(Nagpur-Bangalore). It was cleared for approach for R/W 09 at Bangalore. Due to bad weather at Bangalore aircraft initiated Go around. During the Go Around process No.1 engine stalled. The power on the affected engine was reduced to idle and Go around was continued. During climb No.1 Engine again stalled and power was again reduced to idle. The aircraft diverted Hyderabad with power on No.1 engine in climb detent.
After landing at Hyderabad mud deposit have been observed on left main landing gear, indicating that aircraft has rolled on to soft ground/ unpaved surface.
As per the crew aircraft has deviated to left during go around at Bangalore. Aircraft has been grounded for detailed investigation at Hyderabad.
DFDR data along with other recorder data is being analysed for further investigation.
The low cost airline has been in the news today for other reasons: DGCA gives IndiGo, GoAir till 24 Nov to replace P&W engines on A320 neo planes
After multiple incidents with the Pratt & Whitney engines on their Airbus 320 fleet, the DGCA gave GoAir and IndiGo a deadline of the 19th of November to replace those engines with over 3,000 hours (specifically that the engines need modified main gearboxes and new LPT blades). As of today, GoAir had placed modified engines on nine of their thirteen affected aircraft, a result that the DGCA described as below expectation. The original deadline was extended to the 24rd of November, rather unfortunate based on this week’s incident and the confirmation that one of the engines stalled on going around.
The investigation is continuing.
A quick read confirms what Sylvia already mentioned: Passengers often do not have a clue . In all fairness, they are not required to.
But the praise for the crew was obviously totally misplaced.
From my admittedly less than 2 minutes’ read I must conclude that the crew “missed the runway”. Why? It would seem obvious that they busted limits, it is unlikely that they had the availability of a cat 3 or even cat 2 ILS. And so they tried to continue the approach and land, manually? – from an altitude where they did no longer had reliable signals from the approach aids (ILS? VOR-DME?) and still did not have sufficient visual cues to identify the runway.
OK yes, this is a very quick assessment and I may be wrong. I will read this entry more carefully later.
Is it not possible that they had a view of the threshold from 200′ but ran into a wall of fog as they started the flare? The view from the passenger window clearly shows the runway at the start.
Hitting the fog, they drifted off the runway and he may have initiated a go around but touched the grass before the engines spooled up.
So I’m not sure this incident is as bad as it sounds.
I get that the view out the side window shows a closer view of the runway than the cockpit crew might have seen; a nose-high landing attitude might have meant they couldn’t see ground closer to them than some hundreds of feet, so their view \\might// have been blocked by fog more than shown in the video. But in that case, they should have started a go-around sooner: the video shows sharp veering over the edge of the runway by :14, but doesn’t start to shake (indicating ground contact) until :27, while from the little I’ve read, going from landing power to takeoff power takes about 5 seconds, so they should have been able to pull out if they’d reacted immediately to losing sight of the ground, instead of acting out a line from “What Goes Up Might Come Down” (“If you come in too low you might pick up a sheep or two … the passengers may not notice but the ground crew is bound to complain.”)
The flight crew is primarily responsible for safe landings, but I wonder what kind of weather reporting they got — were they busting minimums as Rudy suggests, or did the tower just not notice (or report) that the runway visibility was variable?
That’s an interesting report on the engine stall; Wikipedia says that Bangalore’s airport has parallel east-west runways, meaning that somebody left off an L or R
A complex situation. The weather reports (METAR) seem to indicate that there was dense fog, mention of an engine stalling, the pilot (captain?) hand-flying the approach in conditions of poor visibility, the grade of approach aids (IL? Cat 1, 2, 3?) is not crystal clear either.
The video seems to show a perfectly stable approach, albeit not aligned with the runway centreline. No apparent swing that could have been caused by a sudden engine failure. And even so, a single-engine go-around may not have been an every day event, but it is not all that difficult to handle either. If the crew were on very, very short final – and assuming that the aircraft “missed” the runway because of an engine failure – the obvious course of action should have been to close both “taps” and land — ON the runway. Once about to touch-down, a landing on one engine is no more complicated than with both working.
But the pilot initiated a wave-off. Why? Because the left undercarriage was in the grass, no on the tarmac. So it would seem to be a logical conclusion that the crew had flown a sloppy approach, busted limits, and did not see the approach lights or the runway in time to line up properly. The video seems to show the beginning of a flare – the raising of the nose for landing – followed by a sudden application of power and the aforementioned wave-off. It shows the left engine over the grass.
So: I thnk that my first assessment actually was close enough to let it stand,
My daughter showed me a video of girls panicking on a plane when the spoilers deployed on landing, they thought the wing was breaking up. To be fair if inexperienced it could be worry :)
Today Sylvia will give us another aviation puzzle to try and solve, or at least illuminate with our combined wisdom (or lack thereof?).
So let us look at the Go Air mishap one last time.
Chip is introducing the factor of parallel runways at Bangalore. But how relevant was that to this incident?
It may be assumed, or at least expected, that a professional airlne cockpit crew do their “homework”. Before flight, in the crew briefing room they will be given a sheaf of papers including expected payload, on which they base their required fuel. The briefing will also include NOTAMs and predicted- and actual weather conditions en-route, at the destination and airports of planned diversions in the form of METARs, TAFs and SIGMETs. Sometimes it is found necessary to increase the fuel load and reduce the payload. As modern aircraft are more capable, the need to “bump off” a few passengers, or cargo, in favour of some extra lbs of fuel, is now rarely needed. But the forecast as well as the NOTAMs should be a guide to what sort of approach may have to be flown. In a major airline, the crew will also collect a route manual. Many airlines use Jeppesen, some have their own system. But the principle is the same: even if the aircraft is equipped with the electronic equivalent the printed manual will usually be carried as a “fall-back”.
So the crew will already have a basic idea what to expect even before departure. then, when within a certain range, they will be listening to the ATIS and be assigned an approach by ATC to a certain runway and maybe an EAT or Expected Aproach Time.
So now, within a hundred miles or so, the crew will – or should – start making a plan of action: the type of approach, available electronic aids, action in the event of a missed approach, fuel status (determining how long the aircraft can remain in a holding pattern before diversion), the approach- and reference speeds, flap settings, action in case of an emergency, and formulate all that in a crew briefing.
Whether there is a left- and right runway should by now no longer be a factor, except to make certain that the appropriate charts are taken out of the manual and / or selected electronically.
The type of approach can be “precision” (usually ILS) or non-precision, e.g. VOR/DME. This in turn will determine the height at which a missed approach must be initiated. If using QFE, the crew will use a height, if QNH, especially when making a non-precision approach, the determining factor will me the MDA or minimum descent altltude.
On a precision approach, and depending on Cat 1, 2 or 3, the crew must have sufficient visual cues at the decision height or -altitude to be allowed to continue. In the olden days, on a non-precision approach the crew would be allowed to decend in steps to the MDA (or MDH) and continue at that altitude until the MAP or missed approach point. Nowadays, modern aids like GPS make it desirable to fly a continuous descent until that height and, if not visual with the terrain and/or approach lights or runway, initiate a missed approach without a level segment.
What am I driving at?
The crew, if on an ILS and in marginal weather, should have flown a coupled approach, on the autopilot. This should have guaranteed that the aircraft would have been lined up perfectly with the runway centreline. And if, at the very last moment, an engine would have failed, the resulting landing should have not have been very different.
When making a go-around with “landing flaps” selected, an aircraft about to set down must accelerate and the flaps reduced to a high lift / low drag setting. More important, if an engine fails and the crew decide not to land, it will be, not a “missed approach” but a “wave-off”. With a failed engine and a high flap setting – assuming that the aproach was flown properly and no busted minima – it is nearly always preferable to land. The time needed for the flaps to retract to the go-around setting and the engine (!!) to spool up AND the aircraft to accelerate will too critical in many cases. See the AF A320 crash at Habsheim, which unfortunately is THE classic example of what can happen if a wave-off is initiated too late.
But of course, if the crew flew a sloppy approach, manually, AND the weather deteriorated so suddenly that a wave-off was deemed necessary, chances are that all this combines to a wheel hitting the gass rather than all safe and sound on the paved runway. The soeed would have been low, drag high. The crew probably were under a sudden unexpected stress and the aircraft lost altitude before it had regained sufficient airspeed to climb away. They were not on the centreline and the aircraft touched the ground.
During a simuator check the pilots will not fail if the instructor gives them a wave-off provided the approach had been flown properly and all wheels touch on the (imaginary in the sim) runway.
So, all said and done, to me this still sounds like a sloppy operation, a sloppy approach, a sloppy crew briefing, resulting in an incident that all, at least survived, and ended not in a tragedy but red faces of the main actors. It also ended with the adoration of the unsuspecting audience – the passengers – who thought that the crew had done a great job.
Personally, unless other factors emerge to prove me wrong, I don’t think so.
I like this analysis. If one of the engines delivered less thrust, then, on a wave-off/late go-around, this could explain the veering off centreline and the grass touch? The crew would not have anticipated the changes resulting from one engine failing during this sequence.
The point is that a wave-off is too critical and should be avoided. Procedures have been formulated that should prevent this. There was some mention of an engine stalling. Not something that ought to happen, unless power has been suddenly increased to “go-around” at very low speed and a high nose angle. In other words: the alleged swing may possibly have been caused by crew mismanagement of the situation during the course of a wave-off. That means that the aircraft may already have been off-centreline BEFORE the swing occurred. Since it seems that both engines resumed normal operation, this would appear to support my analysis.
OK, now over to Sylvia’s new entry!