reducing "Crew-caused"
approach and landing

Pilot-in-charge Monitored Approach

2006 A320 wrong airport landing Londonderry UK

Brief account : 

The A320 was cleared for and started an automatic ILS approach. The Captain (PF) saw a runway close to the centreline. Unaware of the existence of another airport some 6 miles short of the destination he became convinced that that this was the destination and that an ILS malfunction had caused the aircraft to be too high. He disconnected the autopilot to make a 360 descending turn, to land at a military airport used primarily for helicopter operations. 

Crew-related factors : 

The small airline involved existed for only 2 years and went into liquidation about 6 months later. The aircraft was on a wet-lease to a larger carrier. 

The report does not contain much detail of the crew to analyse procedural issues.  The CVR had been unserviceable for over 2 weeks despite a requirement to carry out a daily test.  

The crew do not appear to have been familiar with the airport. However it appears that the early afternoon flight was operating in largely good conditions with broken cloud with a base of 2500 - 3200 ft and occasional showers.

Prior to the flight the Captain had tried unsuccessfully to obtain a chart which would have contained a warning of the existence of the airfield at which the aircraft actually landed, and was therefore unaware of its existence.  

The aircraft was established on an ILS final for the correct runway, but on seeing the nearer runway, the Captain thought the aircraft was high and the ILS was wrong - a perception which was probably reinforced by the idea that a calibrator aircraft was in the vicinity.  

The crew then flew a 360 degree descending turn initially using the autopilot and then manually, to land on the runway which had only a section in good  condition. During the approach EGPWS warnings were ignored. 

The report comments that  "Once visual with BKL, the crew of the A320 were convinced that this was their destination airfield. Distracted by what they perceived was a problem with the ILS glideslope and DME, and the perceived slight sense of urgency from the ATCO, they became focused on landing at the only airfield they could see. Whilst BKL was marked on their approach plates, they failed to recognise the depiction as an airfield.

Not being aware that there was another airfield in the vicinity with a very similar layout, and misbelieving the (correct) ILS glideslope and DME indications, the crew continued towards the only airfield they could see, firmly convinced that they were landing at LDY. This was despite the distraction of the EGPWS warnings during the final stages of the approach.

Had the approach been flown in IMC, there is little doubt that the operating crew would have flown the ILS to Decision Altitude and landed, without incident, at LDY.

It is assumed that the crew were operating to traditional PF/PM procedures. In any event it is evident that both approach management and monitoring completely broke down.   

If the crew had been operating a PicMA procedure it is likely that the Captain would have had more opportunity to evaluate the conflict between correct instrument cues and perceived visual cues. As the Captain would have been operating the communication with the tower it might well have resulted in a more measured decision, and it is unlikely that the F/O would have abandoned the (correct) instrument approach so precipitously. 

Ballykelly Londonderry UK
Expected weather: 
Pilot in charge: 
Early transition: 
Go-around : 
PicMA potential: 
Vert Guidance: 
Both Head Up: 
Fully prepared: 
Actual Weather: 
None relevant
Autopilot :