News

Cooly plane incident: Pilot decided to land in high wind

Near miss at Gold Coast Airport investigated and report released.
Near miss at Gold Coast Airport investigated and report released. Trevor Veale

A REPORT into a near-catastrophic crash at Gold Coast Airport which was released seven months late has highlighted a dangerous trend in Australian aeronautics.

The Australian Transport and Safety Bureau spent months investigating an incident on January 28 this year, when a Boeing 737 passenger plane aquaplaned, or "flared on centreline" in bad weather.

It then veered across the landing strip after an overcorrection by the captain.

At the time of the landing ex-cyclone Oswald was tearing through the Gold Coast and Northern NSW.

After gathering information on similar incidents through its Safetywatch initiative the bureau's report mentions "an increasing trend in problems with aircraft handling and flight profile when unexpected events arise during the approach to land".

The incident earlier this year occurred at night, when a scheduled Virgin Australia passenger plane flying to the Gold Coast from Canberra attempted to touch down about 10.30pm DST in adverse weather.

During approach the plane's crew reported they were basked in cloud cover and experiencing rain and a strong right crosswind of about 40-50 knots.

A tower controller advised the crew the ground crosswind was 21kt and the captain reported "he was mindful of the wind conditions and was prepared to initiate a go-around".

Windshear began to affect the landing at about 100ft and the captain momentarily increased engine thrust.

At 10.29pm the aircraft touched down about 200m further along the runway than intended in light rain and the captain perceived the plane was too close to the left side of the runway, gauging by the proximity of runway edge lights.

The captain overcorrected, resulting in the "aircraft veering to the right side of the runway" before control was regained, and the plane dropped speed and was taxied to the terminal.

The bureau said pilots needed to ensure decisions were properly made during the increased workload of landing.

"When compared to other phases of flight, the approach and landing has a substantially increased workload. Pilots and crew must continuously monitor aircraft and approach parameters, and the external environment to ensure they maintain a stable approach profile and make appropriate decisions for a safe landing," the report said.

Recommendations to crew included voicing concerns ahead of time if needed and following procedures to ensure consistency.

"If there is any doubt about the safety of the aircraft, conducting a go-around is a perfectly legitimate option. Safety trumps scheduling or dignity," the report said.

Luckily, no passengers or crew were injured and the plane was not damaged during the landing.

Topics:  gold coast airport



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