Report probes how Iberia Airbus was damaged when it clipped obstacle after touching down on apron when going around

Details have emerged of a bizzare incident two years ago when an Iberia Airbus A340 touched down on a parking apron during a go-around while undergoing a post-maintenance test flight, and struck an obstacle as it climbed away. According to a just-published official report into the 8 November 2002 incident, the commander, who was the pilot flying, says he was avoiding a flock of birds.

The flightdeck crew consisted of two captains, but the commander was experienced in test flying, and there was a crew of 10 on board, including technicians and a representative of the Spanish civil aviation authority DGAC.

Briefing for the test-flight tasks was reported to be comprehensive, and the crew took off from Madrid Barajas for Salamanca, Spain, having decided that approach, flap, gear and low level ground proximity warning system (GPWS) checks should be carried out there following high level checks en route.

Having carried out an instrument landing system approach and go around at Salamanca's runway 21, checking various GPWS warnings, the crew landed the aircraft from a second approach and had a light meal before taking off again. The captain decided that the "don't sink" GPWS warning needed rechecking and carried out a visual circuit and approach intending to go around.

But on short final approach the aircraft began to drift well to the left of the runway, touched down briefly on the parking apron in front of the terminal, and climbed away striking a 11m (36ft) - high unused sentry tower, severely damaging the flaps and gear.

The commander says the deviation happened while he was avoiding a flock of birds, but the Spanish air accident investigator's report says the cause was "inadequate management of an approach manoeuvre", and the aircraft had been held at less than 36ft above ground level for at least 20s "without any increase in power" before its touch-and-go on the apron.

The damage caused cockpit warnings and prevented the gear from retracting, but the aircraft appeared to be flying normally and the hydraulic and electrical systems were indicating normal, so the aircraft proceeded to Madrid to carry out a flapless landing.

Iberia says it has modified its procedures for test flights, and the pilot-in-command has retired.



Source: Flight International