reducing "Crew-caused"
approach and landing

Pilot-in-charge Monitored Approach

2010 A332 G_A LoC Tripoli Libya

Brief account : 

During a VOR approach the F/O was flying the aircraft using the autopilot, but the Captain was giving detailed instructions on many aspects. There was some confusion as to what modes were to be used and the aircraft descended below the MDA without either pilot having visual reference. A GPWS "Terrain" alert triggered an (eventual) go-around with the F/O initially as PF. Subsequently the autopilot was disconnected and there was ambiguity about who was flying the aircraft with opposing inputs from both pilots. This resulted in loss of control with the aircraft pitching down from about 450ft. 

Crew-related factors : 

The briefing for the approach was not complete, based on an assumption of relatively non-challenging conditions for a crew who were returning to their home base. These did not correspond to what was actually encountered.  

The Captain was acting as PM but the F/O as PF seemed to defer some PF tactical decisions to him. As the weather was deteriorating the Captain was involved in some extraneous communications, and as a result the two pilots lost any common plan as to which autopilot modes would be used for the approach.   

The final approach was then started early, and the crew did not respond to an automated "minimum" call. Both appeared to be seeking external references as the aircraft passed below MDA, and a go-around was eventually called by the Captain in response to a GPWS "Terrain" alert. Neither pilot responded properly to the unexpected go-around with confusion as to what modes were in use, amongst other things, prior to the loss of control and the aircraft crashing. Somotogravic illusions probably played a significant part in this.   

It is unclear whether in this case it was a "F/O" (PicUS) sector, or whether the operator applied different criteria for F/O landings. On the assumption that the Captain would have been "in charge", a PicMA SOP might have impacted a number of aspects.

  • There would have been a clearer understanding of which pilot had responsibility for what aspects, following a more comprehensive and interactive briefing.  
  • The approach might have been better monitored by the Captain. The same crew had miss-flown the same approach with a go-around only two weeks earlier. 
  • As the aircraft approached the MDA, the First Officer would have been fully prepared for a Go-Around if necessary. As it was both pilots were clearly startled by the GPWS alert, and the F/O was unsure as to whether to go around. The Captain did not respond appropriately once the go-around had been initiated. 
  • Only the Captain would have been seeking visual reference. As it was the F/O transitioned from instruments to seeking visual cues prior to returning to instruments for the go-around, increasing his vulnerablility to somotogravic illusions which were possibly a significant contributor to loss of situational awareness and subsequently loss of control.
Tripoli, Libya
Expected weather: 
Pilot in charge: 
F/O under direction
Early transition: 
Go-around : 
At or above DH/A
PicMA potential: 
Vert Guidance: 
Both Head Up: 
Fully prepared: 
Actual Weather: 
Low Cloud
Autopilot :