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Approach and Landing Risks

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Category: Controlled Flight Into Terrain Controlled Flight Into Terrain
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Description

According to Flight Safety Foundation (FSF) Approach-and-landing Accident Reduction (ALAR) Briefing Note 5-1, "Few air transport accidents occur on calm sunny days; risk increases during flight over hilly terrain with reduced visibility, adverse winds, contaminated runways and limited approach aids."

"The FSF ALAR Task Force, in an analysis of 76 approach and landing accidents and serious incidents, including controlled-flight-into-terrain (Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT)) accidents, worldwide in 1984 through 1997, found that:

  • Fifty-three percent of the accidents and incidents occurred duering non-precision approaches or visual approaches (42 percent of the visual; approaches were conducted where an instrument landing system [ILS] approach was available;
  • Fifty percent occurred where no radar service was available;
  • Sixty-seven percent of the CFIT accidents occurred in hilly terrain or mountainous terrain;
  • Fifty-nine percent of the accidents and incidents occurred in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC);
  • Fifty percent occured in precipitation (snow, rain);
  • Fifty-three percent occurred in darkness or twilight;
  • Thirty-three percent involved adverse wind conditions (i.e. strong crosswinds, tail winds or wind shear);
  • Twenty-one percent involved flight crew disorientation or visual illusions;
  • Twenty-nine percent involved nonfitment of available safety equipment (e.g., [[GPWS|ground-proximity warning system [GPWS] or radio altimeter);
  • Eighteen percent involved runway conditions (e.g. wet or contaminated by standing water, slush, snow or ice); and,
  • Twenty-one percent involved inadequate ground aids (e.g., navigation aids, approach/runway lights or visual approach-slope guidance)." the briefing note continued.

The FSF ALAR Toolkit strongly recommends the establishment of a company awareness programme on approach and landing hazards, including CFIT.

Further Reading

Flight Safety Foundation Approach and Landing Briefing Note 5-1. The Flight Safety Foundation (FSF) Approach-and-landing Accident Reduction (ALAR) Toolkit may be obtained by contacting the FSF at http://www.flightsafety.org.