737 freighter damaged in go-around accident

 - September 13, 2006, 10:54 AM

Bringing new meaning to “crash ’n’ dash,” a Boeing 737 suffered damage during a go-around at the attempted conclusion of a night freight flight from Liege, Belgium, to London Stansted on June 15. The airplane was operated by TNT.

According to a Special Bulletin issued by the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch, poor visibility was forecast for Stansted, and when the flight arrived the actual weather was below approach minimums. The crew elected to hold, waiting for an improvement while confirming a possible diversion to Nottingham East Midlands Airport. After 30 minutes the weather at Stansted had deteriorated and the crew diverted.

The visibility at East Midlands had also deteriorated, so the crew had to make a Category 3a approach to Runway 27 with a decision height of less than 50 feet and a runway visual range of less than one-eighth of a mile. The aircraft commander, who had 4,000 hours in 737s, was the pilot flying, and the approach proceeded as briefed until approximately one mile from the runway threshold and 300 feet agl when, for reasons that are still under investigation, the autopilot was momentarily disconnected and almost immediately re-engaged. This caused the aircraft to go high on the glideslope before entering a high rate of descent, at the same time departing the localizer to the left.

The crew initiated a missed approach, but before the engines could spool up, the aircraft touched down heavily in the grass to the left of the runway threshold. The right landing gear was ripped off, damaging the right inboard flap, the wing-body fairing and the rear freight hold door.

At the same time, the hydraulic A system was lost and the aircraft slid along the ground on the right engine, right outboard flap track fairing and the right wingtip, before becoming airborne again.

When the airplane was flying again, the crew declared an emergency, electing to divert to Birmingham International Airport, where the weather was good. The crew made a satisfactory emergency landing 20 minutes later on 8,400-foot Runway 33, though the right engine suffered further damage during the roll-out. The crew was uninjured and there was no further damage to the airframe. An investigation into the accident is in progress.