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A320, vicinity Tel Aviv Israel, 2012

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Revision as of 12:41, 27 June 2014 by Integrator1 (talk | contribs)


On 3 April 2012, an Airbus A320 (F-HEPE) being operated by Air France on a scheduled passenger flight from Paris CDG to Tel Aviv making an RNAV VISUAL approach in day Visual Meteorological Conditions (VMC) to runway 26 at destination was mismanaged by the crew so that the recovery from an unintended low speed condition which triggered flight envelope protection led to an overspeed warning. A second and uneventful approach was subsequently made. There were no injuries to the 155 occupants and no resultant aircraft damage.


An Investigation was carried out by the French Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses (BEA). Recorded flight data was available. It was established that the flight crew involved had been a 58 year old male Captain with around 20000 flying hours over half of which had been gained as a Flight Engineer and 8000 as a Co-pilot on both A320 and A330/340 aircraft. Since gaining a command, he had accumulated 1800 hours on the A320. The 27 year old female Co-Pilot, designated as PF for the incident flight, had accumulated a total of 500 flying hours which included 200 on the A320.

The RNAV VISUAL 26 Approach Chart used by the crew (reproduced from the Official Report)

The approach attempted at Tel Aviv in CAVOK conditions briefed as an ILS approach to runway 26 with only incidental reference to the possibility of an RNAV VISUAL approach for which the Air France chart is shown above.

When ATC offered the RNAV VISUAL Approach, it was accepted but no further briefing had taken place, despite the fact that the PF had never previously flown one and the Captain subsequently stated that he was “not very familiar with this destination”. Neither pilot had received training on this type of approach and there was no reference to it in the Air France ‘Technical Use Manual’. The recommended descent on the charted procedure and its note involved the use of FD/AP/ATHR to achieve a mean slope of 2.7° between waypoints KEREN and DALIT, thereafter following the Visual Approach Slope Indicator Systems and selecting AP/FD OFF below 500 ft agl.

On the incident flight, descent to 3000 feet QNH for the downwind leg had been made in DES/NAV mode and then, half way along the downwind leg, the vertical mode had been changed to OPEN DESCENT which resulted in thrust being reduced to idle. Shortly after this, managed speed was selected and fully configured the aircraft for landing, ahead of the recommended position which was “once established on the glide path, just before lining up on final”. The effect of this action with idle thrust maintained was a rapid reduction of the speed towards the applicable Vapp of 138 KIAS with a lower stall margin than the recommended SOP of a higher target speed prior to final approach.