Training aid targets approach accidents

 - June 5, 2007, 6:44 AM

Approach and landing accidents cause 45 percent of hull losses, according to the Flight Safety Foundation (FSF), despite the fact that this phase of each flight accounts for just 4 percent of flying time. In an effort to address the number of accidents that occur in that brief but critical phase, NBAA began distributing an approach and landing accident reduction (ALAR) training aid at the NBAA International Operators Conference.

The training aid’s main purpose is to educate pilots and operators about strategies and tools they can use to enhance their awareness of the risk factors during approach and landing.

The go-around is one of the best tools for preventing approach and landing accidents, yet it is not used often enough. According to the training aid, “Everyone, the flight crew, management and ATC must recognize that it is OK for the pilot to make the decision to go around. In cases where a go-around decision would have been more appropriate and might have prevented an accident, 87 percent of flight crews chose not to go around.”

The go-around shouldn’t be considered a last-ditch attempt to extricate an airplane from a difficult situation; rather, it should be used anytime an approach doesn’t meet stabilized criteria. “The key factor is to constantly reassess your decision to land during the approach,” the aid recommends.

The stabilized approach criteria are best used as part of an operator’s standard operating procedures (SOPs), but having SOPs doesn’t guarantee that pilots will follow them. “In most approach and landing accidents,” the aid noted, “deviation from standard operating procedures was a leading causal factor.”

The training aid includes a detailed approach and landing risk-reduction guide and an SOP template. FSF-recommended stabilized approach criteria that should be part of an operator’s SOPs are that at 1,000 feet above touchdown in IMC or 500 feet VMC, the airplane should:

•    be on the correct flight path;

•    be able to maintain the flight path with only small heading/ pitch changes;

•    be carrying a speed of not more than Vref+20 knots IAS and not less than Vref;

•    have a sink rate of no more than 1,000 fpm;

•    be in proper approach and landing configuration;

•    be at a power setting no lower than the minimum specified for the type; and

•    the crew should have completed all briefings and checklists.

“These may seem like obvious procedures and strategies,” the aid warns, but “lack of attention to these factors was the dominant cause of approach and landing accidents. It can happen to you. You will find yourself in similar situations.”

The ALAR training aid, a version of the Flight Safety Foundation’s corporate aviation ALAR Tool Kit, is free to NBAA operating members. The association will also distribute the aid at safety meetings and at the NBAA Convention in September. Non-members can buy the training aid from NBAA for $200; the FSF ALAR Tool Kit is available for $160 for non-FSF-members or $40 for members.

Causal Factors in Approach and Landing Accidents

• not being stabilized on approach

• not following established procedures

• lack of vertical position awareness

• failure to go around