PILOT FATIGUE, combined with a disregard for a published minimum decision height, caused the fatal 21 December, 1994, Air Algerie Boeing 737-200 freighter crash on the approach to Coventry Airport in the UK, according to the official report.

The aircraft had been on a surveillance-radar approach (SRA), with visibility at the airport of only 1,200m (3,900ft) and decision height at 650ft. The report makes clear that the pilots were unfamiliar with SRA procedures, and ignored the decision height, even though they could not have had the necessary runway visual reference to continue the approach. Continued descent led to the left-wing hitting an electricity pylon, damaging the high-lift devices, causing the aircraft to roll left and hit the ground inverted, killing all five people on board. The pylon was 2km (1nm) from the runway threshold.

Fatigue stemming from a 10h, five-sector duty period, which had started just before midnight had made the crew uncommunicative and eager to complete the flight, the investigators say. The report says: "The performance of the flight-crew was impaired by tiredness."

The British Airline Pilots Association says that such a duty period would have been illegal if the aircraft had been UK-registered and the crew had held UK licences.

The Association also notes its concern that the proposed European Joint Aviation Regulations (JAR) on flight-time limitations may extend existing permitted duty periods. The JARs will not be finalised until March.

Source: Flight International