reducing "Crew-caused"
approach and landing

Pilot-in-charge Monitored Approach

The Schedule.

Flight XXX99 was a modern twin-engined, two-crew jet, operating a late evening service to Sommeton, a coastal airport in a developing country. Sommeton, elevation 420’ a.m.s.l, has a single 2800m. runway 17/35 and is situated on the south side of a river estuary. The aircraft was fully serviceable but was approximately 90 minutes behind schedule because of a technical defect rectified prior to departure. The aircraft was scheduled to arrive at 2115 local, and depart at 2205, 55 minutes before Sommeton’s 2300 noise curfew, which would be extended for a maximum of an hour in the event of delays.

The crew were aware that the scheduled turn-around time was one hour, and also knew that the airline could routinely achieve a 35-minute turn-around if necessary. The crew were therefore anticipating that they would be arriving about 15 minutes before the curfew, and departing during the curfew extension period with about half an hour margin before complete closure.

The Crew

The pilots were a Captain aged 40 with a total of  9,000 hours, of which 4000 hours were on type, and who had considerable experience of operation into Sommeton. The First Officer was aged 30, with 5000 hours total time, but had only recently converted onto type and had not operated into Sommeton before.

The conditions. 

The weather forecast was: wind 010/10, visibility 10 km. or more, cloud 1500’ scattered, 4000’ broken, temporarily visibility 3500m in haze, 700’ broken. The NOTAMS included the following: "Taxiway “C” closed between E and D. Glideslope ILS 17 unreliable. ILS-DME 17 u/s".  Additional company briefings included: “Map shifts have been experienced during approaches at Sommeton. These are under investigation by the manufacturers. Until the causes are resolved, approaches must be conducted using raw data displays only.”

The SOPs

The Company operations manual recommended SOPs based on the convention PF/PNF “assisted flying” philosophy that the Pilot-in-Charge should normally act as pilot flying. However, the company had taken account of the Flight Safety Foundation Approach and Landing Accident Reduction (ALAR) Task Force's conclusions in implementing its CRM training.

Their policy noted that "when the PIC is the pilot flying and the operational environment is complex, the task profile and workload reduce the flying pilot's flight management efficiency and decision-making capability in approach and landing operations", so it incorporated training that should result in transferring pilot flying duties in such situations. 

It stated among other things, “In operationally complex situations, for example serious aircraft deficiencies generating high workload, the Captain should give consideration to delegating the flying to the co-pilot, in order to maximise his/her ability to give attention to the full effect of such situations on the safety of the flight”.