Honduran L-410 crash pilots failed to follow procedures

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Pilots of a Central American Airways Let L-410 failed to follow the correct instrument procedure for landing at Tegucigalpa before the aircraft struck terrain in poor weather while ­attempting a second approach.

The twin-engined aircraft, arriving from San Pedro Sula as flight CAA731, had initially been cleared for a northerly approach to runway 20. However, the pilots did not make visual contact with the runway, the Honduran Comision de Accidentes e Incidentes says, and were directed to make an opposite-direction approach to runway 02 instead.

Tegucigalpa Toncontin ­airport's missed approach procedure for 02 involves climbing south-southwest past the VOR beacon to 8,000ft (2,400m) and entering a holding pattern. The approach chart warns of high terrain in ­surrounding quadrants.

let l-410 crash, dgac honduras

 © DGAC Honduras

Meteorological data showed a tailwind and low cloud, with visibility reduced to 5,000m. The crew advised they were passing the approach fix, 7nm (13km) south of the airport, but air traffic control lost contact shortly ­after.

The L-410 hit terrain at 5,412ft, with the loss of all 14 people on board. While information was retrieved from the cockpit voice recorder, the flight-data recorder tape was found to be broken.

The commission of inquiry into the 14 February 2011 crash states that the two pilots' altimeters showed widely different readings - the captain's showed 5,180ft and the first officer's 7,500ft - although it does not give an explanation. While it acknowledges the poor weather conditions - which included turbulence and winds of up to 27kt (50km/h) - the commission says the pilots demonstrated "non-compliance" with the required procedure.

They did not pay enough ­attention to airspeed or altimeter, did not carry out briefings for the approaches and failed to check the progress of the flight against the charts.

The commission adds that the performance of the aircraft (HR-AUQ) was also reduced by "premature" configuration for landing, and adds: "Compliance and procedures were sufficient to ­prevent the ­[accident]."