Large jet aircraft are at a far higher risk of an accident than turboprops when carrying out non-precision approaches (NPAs) to airports, says a Flight Safety Foundation (FSF) Approach and Landing Accident Reduction (ALAR) working group study. Otherwise, jets have a better reputation for safety than turboprops.

There have been 20 NPA accidents involving large jets in the last 10 years, which killed 917people, but only two accidents to turboprops on similar approaches. Fatal NPA accidents in the period include the Gulf Air Airbus A320 crash in Bahrain in August, and the Korean Air Boeing 747-300 crash at Guam in August 1997.

Speaking at the Flight Safety Foundation's International Air Safety Seminar in New Orleans last month, ALAR study group member Dr Ratan Khatwa said that large jets are more vulnerable. The pilots of large jets rarely carry out NPAs, and the airlines do not set aside pilot training time for them.

In the case of the Bahrain accident, the pilot could have chosen an instrument landing system (ILS) precision approach but instead used the VOR/DME approach for the reciprocal runway. At Guam, the ILS glideslope was unserviceable so the pilots had to calculate their own glideslope using DME.

Source: Flight International