Alert Controller Saves Gulfstream IV from Crashing

 - August 31, 2010, 12:54 PM

An alert radar controller monitoring traffic at Shannon air traffic services is credited with helping to prevent a Gulfstream IV-SP from crashing into the ground near Killarney, Ireland, last July. According to a UK incident report released yesterday, the Gulfstream crew requested a return back to Kerry Airport after a fracture formed on the left-hand windshield shortly after takeoff. Kerry Tower obliged and cleared the aircraft for the ILS approach to Runway 26. The crew initiated the procedure but then started to descend, in IMC, on a parallel track to the ILS but 6 nm to the south. A radar controller in Shannon, who had been monitoring but not controlling the flight, telephoned Kerry Tower and directed that the controller should instruct the aircraft to climb immediately. As the Kerry controller issued these instructions, the GIV's EGPWS sounded. The aircraft was at 702 feet agl before starting the climb, UK investigators said. The GIV eventually landed safely at Kerry. Probable cause was “the crew suffered a serious loss of navigational and situational awareness while attempting to return to" Kerry Airport. Contributing factors were poor crew resource management; the first officer's lack of recent flying experience; a "false localizer" signal due to the approach mode being armed while the aircraft was outside localizer coverage; and the captain starting a descent without having a valid ILS signal.