The pilots of the Luxor Air MD-83 clearly flew an incorrect profile when making an approach to Nantes (Flight International, 6-12 April) but perhaps some questions could be answered? Air traffic control was said to have pointed out to the crew that they were off track, so they were obviously being monitored by radar. Had the radar controller given them any assistance on what was obviously a night of poor weather? Aircraft in France are often instructed to make a procedural approach with no radar assistance whatever when clearly a radar controller is watching them. Is there any approach lighting to runway 21? If so, was it serviceable and switched on? Were PAPIs on runway 21 serviceable and switched on? In the past the French filed a Difference, which absolved them from providing PAPIs on some runways, and in the worst case the crews of public transport aircraft could find themselves making an approach to a runway at night with no approach lighting and no PAPIs. Is this Difference still in effect?
Finally, are airline management pilots and flight operations inspectors of national authorities aware that it is imperative to assure themselves in advance that operations into smaller airports meet the safety criteria that the individual airline and/or regulating authority consider to be the minimum required?
A L Stephenson
Thetford, Norfolk, UK
Source: Flight International