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Accident and Serious Incident Reports: WAKE

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Category: Wake Vortex Turbulence Wake Vortex Turbulence
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A selection of articles in SKYbrary relating to events which included Wake Vortex Turbulence as a contributory factor. The events are organised according to the tagging system in place.

ICAO Standard Wake Separation prevailed

  • A306, vicinity JFK New York USA, 2001 (On November 12, 2001, an Airbus Industries A300-600 operated by American Airlines crashed into a residential area of Belle Harbour, New York, after take-off from John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York. Shortly after take off, the aircraft encountered mild wake turbulence from a departing Boeing 747-400.)
  • CL60 / A388, en-route, Arabian Sea, 2017 (On 7 January 2017, the crew of a Bombardier Challenger en route at FL340 over international waters between India and the Arabian Peninsula temporarily lost control of their aircraft approximately one minute after an Airbus A380 had passed 1,000 feet above them tracking in the opposite direction. The Investigation is ongoing but has noted that both aircraft were in compliance with their air traffic clearances, that a major height loss occurred during loss of control with some occupants sustaining serious injuries and that after successfully diverting, the structure of the aircraft was found to have been damaged beyond economic repair.)
  • E170, en-route, Ishioka Japan, 2014 (On 29 April 2014, an Embraer E170 being operated in accordance with ATC instructions in smooth air conditions suddenly encountered an unexpected short period of severe turbulence which led both members of the cabin crew to fall and sustain injury, one a serious injury. The Investigation concluded that the turbulence encountered, which had occurred soon after the aircraft began descent from FL110, was due to an encounter with the descending wake vortex of a preceding Airbus A340 which had been approximately 10 nm and 2 minutes ahead on the same track and had remained level at FL 110.)
  • A319 / B744, en-route near Oroville WA USA, 2008 (On 10 January 2008, an Air Canada Airbus A319 en route over the north western USA encountered unexpected sudden wake vortex turbulence from an in trail Boeing 747-400 nearly 11nm ahead to which the pilots who then responded with potentially hazardous flight control inputs which led to reversion to Alternate Control Law and aggravated the external /disturbance to the aircraft trajectory with roll up to 55° and an unintended descent of 1400 feet which with cabin service in progress and sea belt signs off led to cabin service carts hitting the cabin ceiling and several passenger injuries, some serious.)
  • B735, en-route, North East of London UK, 1996 (On 5 September 1996, a Boeing 737-500 operated by British Midland, encountered severe wake turbulence whilst in the hold over London. The wake was attributed to a B767 some 6 nm ahead.)


ICAO Standard Wake Separation not met

  • A388/A320, vicinity Frankfurt Germany, 2011 (On 13 December 2011, an Airbus 320 was allowed to depart from runway 25C at Frankfurt on a left turning SID just prior to the touchdown of an A380 on runway 25L. The A380 had then initiated a low go around which put it above, ahead of and parallel to the A320 with a closest proximity of 1nm / 200 ft, in breach of the applicable wake vortex separation minima of 7nm / 1000ft. The Investigation found that there had been no actual encounter with the A380 wake vortices but that systemic ATC operational risk management was inadequate.)
  • WW24, vicinity John Wayne Airport Santa Ana CA USA, 1993 (On 15 December 1993, the crew of an IAI Westwind on a domestic passenger charter flight failed to leave sufficient separation between their aircraft and the Boeing 757 ahead on finals in night VMC and lost control or their aircraft which crashed killing all occupants and destroying the aircraft in the impact and post-crash fire.)
  • B738 / AS25, en-route, near Frankfurt Hahn Germany, 2013 (On 25 April 2013, the experienced pilot of an en-route motor glider which was not under power at the time and therefore not transponding observed a potentially conflicting aircraft in Class 'E' airspace near Frankfurt Hahn and commenced avoiding action. Although the glider was within their field of view, neither of the pilots of the other aircraft, a Boeing 737 in a descent, was aware of the proximity of the glider until it passed them on an almost parallel opposite-direction track 161 feet below them at a range of 350 metres as their aircraft was passing approximately 6,500 feet QNH.)


Accepted ATC clearance not followed

Own separation

  • C185, Wellington New Zealand, 1997 (On Monday 3 March 1997 at 1014 hours, privately owned and operated Cessna 185 encountered wake turbulence from previous departing aircraft, the pilot lost control of the aircraft at a height from which recovery was not possible and the aircraft descended to the ground.)
  • WW24, vicinity John Wayne Airport Santa Ana CA USA, 1993 (On 15 December 1993, the crew of an IAI Westwind on a domestic passenger charter flight failed to leave sufficient separation between their aircraft and the Boeing 757 ahead on finals in night VMC and lost control or their aircraft which crashed killing all occupants and destroying the aircraft in the impact and post-crash fire.)
  • P28A / S76, Humberside UK 2009 (On 26 September 2009, a Piper PA28-140 flown by an experienced pilot was about to touch down after a day VMC approach about a mile behind an S76 helicopter which was also categorised as 'Light' for Wake Vortex purposes rolled uncontrollably to the right in the flare and struck the ground inverted seriously injuring the pilot. The Investigation noted existing informal National Regulatory Authority guidance material already suggested that light aircraft pilots might treat 'Light' helicopters as one category higher when on approach and recommended that this advice be more widely promulgated.)


Intrail event

  • B733, en-route, Santa Barbara CA USA, 1999 (On 2 September 1999, a United Airlines Boeing Boeing 737-300 in the cruise at FL240, experienced severe turbulence due to an encounter with the wake vortex from a preceding MD11 on a similar track which had climbed through the level of the B737 with minimum lateral separation, 1.5 minutes earlier.)
  • C185, Wellington New Zealand, 1997 (On Monday 3 March 1997 at 1014 hours, privately owned and operated Cessna 185 encountered wake turbulence from previous departing aircraft, the pilot lost control of the aircraft at a height from which recovery was not possible and the aircraft descended to the ground.)
  • E170, en-route, Ishioka Japan, 2014 (On 29 April 2014, an Embraer E170 being operated in accordance with ATC instructions in smooth air conditions suddenly encountered an unexpected short period of severe turbulence which led both members of the cabin crew to fall and sustain injury, one a serious injury. The Investigation concluded that the turbulence encountered, which had occurred soon after the aircraft began descent from FL110, was due to an encounter with the descending wake vortex of a preceding Airbus A340 which had been approximately 10 nm and 2 minutes ahead on the same track and had remained level at FL 110.)
  • A319 / B744, en-route near Oroville WA USA, 2008 (On 10 January 2008, an Air Canada Airbus A319 en route over the north western USA encountered unexpected sudden wake vortex turbulence from an in trail Boeing 747-400 nearly 11nm ahead to which the pilots who then responded with potentially hazardous flight control inputs which led to reversion to Alternate Control Law and aggravated the external /disturbance to the aircraft trajectory with roll up to 55° and an unintended descent of 1400 feet which with cabin service in progress and sea belt signs off led to cabin service carts hitting the cabin ceiling and several passenger injuries, some serious.)
  • WW24, vicinity John Wayne Airport Santa Ana CA USA, 1993 (On 15 December 1993, the crew of an IAI Westwind on a domestic passenger charter flight failed to leave sufficient separation between their aircraft and the Boeing 757 ahead on finals in night VMC and lost control or their aircraft which crashed killing all occupants and destroying the aircraft in the impact and post-crash fire.)


Cross track event

  • B738 / AS25, en-route, near Frankfurt Hahn Germany, 2013 (On 25 April 2013, the experienced pilot of an en-route motor glider which was not under power at the time and therefore not transponding observed a potentially conflicting aircraft in Class 'E' airspace near Frankfurt Hahn and commenced avoiding action. Although the glider was within their field of view, neither of the pilots of the other aircraft, a Boeing 737 in a descent, was aware of the proximity of the glider until it passed them on an almost parallel opposite-direction track 161 feet below them at a range of 350 metres as their aircraft was passing approximately 6,500 feet QNH.)


Intersection take off

  • C185, Wellington New Zealand, 1997 (On Monday 3 March 1997 at 1014 hours, privately owned and operated Cessna 185 encountered wake turbulence from previous departing aircraft, the pilot lost control of the aircraft at a height from which recovery was not possible and the aircraft descended to the ground.)


Intersecting extended centrelines

Intersecting runways

En-route event

  • CL60 / A388, en-route, Arabian Sea, 2017 (On 7 January 2017, the crew of a Bombardier Challenger en route at FL340 over international waters between India and the Arabian Peninsula temporarily lost control of their aircraft approximately one minute after an Airbus A380 had passed 1,000 feet above them tracking in the opposite direction. The Investigation is ongoing but has noted that both aircraft were in compliance with their air traffic clearances, that a major height loss occurred during loss of control with some occupants sustaining serious injuries and that after successfully diverting, the structure of the aircraft was found to have been damaged beyond economic repair.)


Related Articles

For all accident reports held on SKYbrary, see the main section on Accident Reports.