reducing "Crew-caused"
approach and landing

Pilot-in-charge Monitored Approach

1997 B737 wrong airport CorpusChristi USA

Brief account : 

 After being cleared for a localiser approach with reported weather of 6,000 feet overcast, 10 miles visibility, the aircraft was landed on a disused military runway almost in line with the cleared one, but about 5 miles short and situated close to the final approach fix. There were no injuries or damage.

Crew-related factors : 

The F/O was PF and inexperienced on type; the Captain was a check pilot, who was talking the F/O through various aspects of setting up approaches on the FMS.

The Captain had flown into the destination 3 years earlier, the First Officer never.  

They specifically mentioned about crossing the final approach fix at 1,600 feet, but "based on the ATIS information, we anticipated picking up the field visually to proceed on in for the landing."

After descending to 2,000 feet the aircraft was in and out of a broken cloud layer which "somewhat" obscured the flight crew's view of the surrounding area, while the visibility was about 5 to 6 miles. After "verifying all of the instruments were properly configured for the approach", the Captain looked outside and "saw a runway at the northern edge of the cloud they were in and out of." He then said, "runway in sight, let's land." The runway also had the number 31 painted on its approach end. The First Officer asked the Captain if they "could make the landing from here and the Captain said yes."

The autopilot was disconnected and they started a visual descent to the runway. The Captain reported the airport in sight to approach control, and he was instructed to contact tower control. Tower control cleared the flight to land, and subsequently the aircraft made an uneventful landing on the 5000ft long Runway 31 at Cabaniss Field instead of the 7500ft R/W 31 at Corpus Christi International. The runway the landing was made on was in fact very close to the Final Approach fix which should have been crossed at 1600ft. The report does not mention any stable approach criteria.   

In this event the Captain was clearly in control of the flight, and abandoned the "monitoring" role. The F/O as PF however did not pick up the "monitoring" function, but simply followed the Captain's lead in prematurely abandoning instrument information in favour of incorrect visual cues.

It is not clear whether this was officially a training flight, for which special consideration needs to be given. However the PicMA procedure would probably have resulted in more interaction between the crew, with the F/O remaining on instruments to a much lower altitude for the Captain's landing, in which case the crew may well have realised that the aircraft altitude was significantly low for crossing the FAF.

It is unlikely the F/O would voluntarily have abandoned an IFR approach in a new aircraft type at an airport he had never visited before. 

Alternatively, if the Captain had been PF for the approach, demonstrating the instrument procedure for the F/O to land, it is less likely that he would have abandoned the IFR procedure well ahead of the FAF, and instructed the F/O to take over and land on the basis of  a glimpse of runway.   

Although this did not result in damage or injury, it had serious career consequences for both pilots. 

CorpuisChristi USA
Expected weather: 
Pilot in charge: 
F/O under direction
Early transition: 
Go-around : 
PicMA potential: 
Vert Guidance: 
Both Head Up: 
Fully prepared: 
Actual Weather: 
Low Cloud
Autopilot :