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Short-landing 737 crew failed to notify airport over damage

Polish investigators have disclosed that an Air Europa Boeing 737-800 crew failed to inform airport or air traffic control after landing far short at Katowice and carving through the airport's approach light structures.

Over 120 items of damage were recorded on the aircraft, including impacts to both wings, engines, flaps and the landing-gear.

"The flight crew did not inform about the occurrence the airport traffic control services or any other airport services," says the inquiry from Polish authority PKBWL, despite the pilots' discussing the need for such notification during taxiing to the stand.

PKBWL says the aircraft (EC-HBM) had touched down 870m before the threshold of runway 27 after an unstable approach in which the crew had attempted to chase the glideslope from above.

The captain had opted for a straight-in approach to save fuel, against the suggestion of the first officer – the flying pilot – who had expressed concern over poor visibility. The conditions at the time were below minima for the airport.

As well as the two handling pilots the crew included a third member, an instructor, in the jump seat.

Two minutes before the landing the aircraft was still some 3,100ft above ground while only 6.4nm from the threshold. At this distance, on a typical 3° glideslope, it should have been descending through about 2,000ft.

The crew requested full-intensity approach lighting and, 80s from touchdown, were discussing that the aircraft was too high.

Its descent rate increased to nearly 1,850ft/min as the aircraft passed the KTC navigation beacon, 300ft above the required altitude.

As the aircraft descended it crossed the glideslope from above, 17s before touchdown, triggering sink-rate alerts from the ground-proximity warning system which subsequently evolved into "pull up" instructions.

The captain had originally intended to take control of the aircraft for the final approach but only seized control of the jet in the last 4s before touchdown.

Cockpit-voice recordings captured the sound of an initial impact with lighting poles before the aircraft made ground contact at 144kt. There was a momentary advance of the thrust levers, which generated the stick-shaker and a take-off configuration warning.

The thrust levers were pulled back again and the flight-data recorder registered three more touchdown impacts before the aircraft slowed on runway 27 and taxied to stand 11.

None of the 114 passengers and eight crew members was injured in the event, which occurred on 28 October 2007. PKBWL has only just released its final report into the accident.

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