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The perils of night approaches over the sea

Since 2000 there have been two fatal accidents involving low turns over the sea at night. The official reports on both accidents say that the pilots lost control as a result of becoming disorientated, and that there was no aircraft malfunction.

In August 2000 at night a Gulf Air Airbus A320 crashed into the sea south of Bahrain airport soon after the crew initiated a go-around that involved a climbing turn to the left over the sea to level out at 2,500ft (760m) on a downwind leg to make a second attempt to approach the airport. The climbing turn became a descending turn all the way to impact.

Gulf Air

In May 2006 an Armavia A320 was on an instrument landing system approach to Sochi, Russia in deteriorating weather at night when the crew were ordered by the controller to abandon the approach as the aircraft was descending through 300m , and carry out a right-hand climbing turn to level out at 600m. The aircraft climbed to 450m, but then lost height and speed and hit the sea.

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