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Short-landing 747-8F should have executed go-around

Dutch investigators have determined that the crew of a Boeing 747-8F should have executed a go-around after its approach destabilised shortly before the jet landed short at Amsterdam.

Operated by Russian carrier AirBridgeCargo, the aircraft (VQ-BLR) contacted the runway some 300m before the touchdown point of runway 36R – and short of the threshold marking – striking lights and sustaining dents and scratches to its fuselage and wings.

The Dutch Safety Board attributes the incident to a high descent rate, pointing out that the 747 dipped below the glideslope after the autopilot was disengaged at 700ft.

It states that the approach, just beforehand, had been stable but that, shortly before touchdown, the ground-proximity warning system issued two warnings about the glideslope and sink rate.

Investigators found that the deviation from the glideslope, some 2-3s before touchdown, had become excessive and that the descent rate had increased to 1,070ft/min.

This departure from a stable approach should have prompted a go-around, says the inquiry: “However, the captain did not carry this out, despite procedures requiring it.”

In testimony the captain stated that there was no time to react, as the landing followed almost immediately. The crew managed to reduce the descent rate to 500ft/min but the 747 contacted the runway with a 1.76g impact, bounced, and touched down again at 1.84g.

The aircraft had been arriving at Amsterdam Schiphol from Novosibirsk, as part of a flight from Hong Kong, on 13 January last year.

Three pilots had been in the cockpit, including one in the observer’s seat, with a fourth travelling in the cabin.

The inquiry says that the captain and first officer had not mentioned any issues with fatigue during the landing, although it points out that the crew had been on duty for more than 14h at the time.

Investigators state that a strong and variable north-westerly wind was present during the approach, with a speed of 26kt gusting to 38kt. No windshear warning sounded on the 747 but other aircraft had reported windshear conditions.

Schiphol’s runway 36R is 3,400m long but the available landing distance had been restricted to 2,825m owing to the intersection with runway 09/27. This distance was “relatively short” for a large freighter, the inquiry says, but the crew had calculated a required runway length of 2,549m.

AirBridgeCargo has taken measures in the wake of the incident to prevent hard and short landings, it adds.

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