Jetstar changes approach criteria after 2010 A321 incident

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Australian carrier Jetstar Airways has amended its stable approach criteria and pilot training following a 2010 missed approach involving an Airbus A321 aircraft landing in Singapore.

On 27 May 2010, the aircraft, registration VH-VWW, was undertaking a landing at Singapore's Changi airport when, at 500ft (152m), the crew realised that the landing gear was not fully deployed, says a report by the Australia Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB).

The aircraft was operating as flight JQ57 on the Darwin-Singapore route. The incident occurred at 18:45 local time in generally clear conditions.

The ATSB attributed the incident to a lack of communication between the captain, who was the "pilot not flying" for the sector, and the first officer (FO), the "pilot flying" for the sector. Before the incident, the captain had 13,431 hours of total flying experience, and the FO 4,097 hours.

"The aircraft was not in the correct landing configuration by 500ft height above the aerodrome and, as required by the operator's procedures in the case of an unstable approach, the crew carried out a missed approach."

The report notes that at 2,500-2,000ft, the captain's mobile phone received incoming text messages. The captain's preoccupation with the phone caused a loss of communication between crew members.

"The receipt of the text messages on the captain's phone, and the retrospective action by the captain to bring the autopilot disconnection ECAM [electronic centralised aircraft monitor] to the FO's attention, distracted the FO to the extent that the existing crew resource management effectively broke down," says the report.

As the aircraft continued descending, the crew further failed to coordinate their efforts, with neither initiating the landing checklist. The ultimate result was a failure to deploy the landing gear in a timely fashion, resulting in the missed approach.

Following the incident, the ATSB says Jetstar changed its stable approach criteria, mandating that the aircraft "must be fully configured by 1,000ft height above airport (HAA)". Previously, the criterion was that aircraft "should be fully configured by 1,000ft HAA".

Jetstar also mandated that landing checklists need to be completed by 1,000ft HAA, and produced a video recreating the incident that was included in its training programme.

"The video will use this incident as an example, emphasise crew complacency as a key threat, and examine the precursors for any complacency within regular public transport operations," says ATSB.