Low speed, high descent rate led to September 2012 hard landing and aircraft damage of Jazz Aviation flight in Gaspé, Quebec
Dorval, Quebec, 7 August 2014 – In its investigation report (A12Q0161) released today, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) determined that a landing approach below the optimum approach slope at a low speed and high descent rate led to the hard landing and fuselage strike of a de Havilland DHC-8-301 at the Gaspé Airport on 10 September 2012. There were no injuries to the 32 passengers and 3 crew members, but the aircraft sustained significant damage to its rear fuselage.
The Jazz Aviation DHC-8 was on a scheduled flight from Iles-de-la-Madelaine, Quebec to Gaspé, Quebec. While on its final approach to land, the aircraft reached the optimum descent angle of 3 degrees and continued its approach, descending gradually below the slope indicated by the runway’s precision approach path indicator (PAPI) lights. At 170 feet above the runway threshold, the aircraft descended below the lower limit of the PAPI light descent slope and the pilot flying reduced power, thus reducing speed and increasing the descent rate. This indicated an intention to touch down near the runway threshold. At 45 feet above the runway threshold, the pilot reduced power to idle, further increasing the descent rate and reducing airspeed. The nose was raised just prior to touchdown, and the aircraft landed hard resulting in the lower part of the aft fuselage contacted the runway surface during the landing.
The investigation found that the pilot monitoring did not realize that the aircraft was flying too slowly in time to intervene and prevent the hard landing. An attempt to reduce the rate of descent by applying an abrupt nose-up attitude was ineffective, as the aircraft was already flying too slowly. The aft part of the fuselage striking the runway caused significant structural damage to the aircraft. Furthermore, the crew had not received training on the manufacturer’s recommended technique to reduce descent rates close to the ground (increasing engine power and limiting nose-up attitude).
Following the occurrence, Jazz Aviation now provides training on recovery from high descent rates close to the ground to all DHC-8 pilots, and has made improvements to its operating procedures, including amending its short-field landing technique and clarifying stabilized approach and landing criteria.
The TSB is an independent agency that investigates marine, pipeline, railway and aviation transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.
For more information, contact:
Transportation Safety Board of Canada
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