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T154, vicinity Svalbard Norway, 1996

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On 29 August 1996, a Tu-154, crashed after misflying an off-set LLZ non-precision approach to Svalbard Longyear airport, Norway, in IMC.
Event Details
When August 1996
Actual or Potential
Event Type
Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT), Human Factors
Day/Night Day
Flight Conditions IMC
Flight Details
Aircraft TUPOLEV Tu-154
Operator Vnukovo Airlines
Domicile Russian Federation
Type of Flight Public Transport (Passenger)
Origin Moskow/Vnukovo International Airport
Intended Destination Svalbard/Longyear
Take off Commenced Yes
Flight Airborne Yes
Flight Completed No
Flight Phase Descent
Location - Airport
Airport vicinity Svalbard/Longyear
Tag(s) Non Precision Approach
Tag(s) Into terrain,
No Visual Reference,
Lateral Navigation Error,
Vertical navigation error,
IFR flight plan
Tag(s) Distraction,
Ineffective Monitoring,
Manual Handling,
Spatial Disorientation
Damage or injury Yes
Aircraft damage Hull loss
Fatalities Most or all occupants (141)
Causal Factor Group(s)
Group(s) Aircraft Operation
Safety Recommendation(s)
Group(s) Aircraft Operation,
Aircraft Airworthiness,
Air Traffic Management,
Airport Management
Investigation Type
Type Independent


On 29 August 1996, a TUPOLEV Tu-154, crashed after misflying an off-set LLZ non-precision approach to Svalbard Longyear airport, Norway, in Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC).


The following is an extract taken from the Summary from the AAIB Norway Accident Report:

"On 29 August 1996…a Russian Tupolev TU-154…hit the mountain Operafjellet on Svalbard, Norway and crashed while on a localizer (LLZ) approach (offset) to runway 28 at Svalbard Airport Longyear… All on board perished instantly [11 crew and 130 passengers]. The subsequent investigation has led to the conclusion that the aircraft was airworthy and that the crew was in control of the aircraft when it hit the ground. The accident took place in daylight under Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC). The crew was well prepared for an…(ILS) approach to runway 10. However, the traffic that morning was using runway 28 for take-off and landing, due to the wind direction. Owing to limited knowledge of the English language, the crew had difficulty communicating their intention of making an approach to runway 10, which was within the aircraft performance criteria, to the AFIS officer (aerodrome Flight Information Service) on duty. In addition, the crew was not fully aware of the status of an AFIS officer compared to the authority of a Russian air traffic controller, with the result that the crew conceived the safety information given as an instruction. Accordingly, the crew decided to use runway 28 for landing while the aircraft was descending to the initial approach altitude. The navigator, in particular, became very busy preparing the new approach in addition to taking care of the pilot duties controlling the aircraft laterally and communicating with the AFIS. The frequency 109.5 MHz for the localizer approach to runway 28 was set correctly. the rule requiring the setting of the landing course on the Horizontal Situation Indicator (HSI) was adhered to, and 283° was set instead of the approach course 300°. Most probably the same course 283° was set on the GPS… which was being used as backup navigational aid. In the base turn overshooting the approach centerline and rolling out on final, the crew showed lack of situational awareness, being confused by differences in the instrument indications. Instead of intercepting the approach centerline to correct for the aircraft being about 3 km to the right, the crew continued with a slowly increasing right displacement until impact. The interpretation of the CVR shows disagreement within the crew as whether to correct to the left or right. Descent was started without positive control of the lateral navigation. In spite of uncertainty as to whether they were approaching correctly or not, the crew did not discontinue the approach and climb to a safe altitude to solve the problem…"

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