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12th of September 2012

Pilots hard-landed CRJ200 as storm foiled go-around

Weather and terrain limited abort options for crew after unstable approach to Barcelona 

Spanish investigators have described how a Bombardier CRJ200 sustained damage in a hard landing after the crew opted against a go-around owing to weather and high terrain. 

The Air Nostrum aircraft ¬(EC-ITU) had been arriving at Barcelona on a service from Badajoz and was lining up with runway 25R on a visual approach from the south. 

Air traffic controllers had already given clearance for the southerly approach because storms were forcing traffic from the north to divert. 

Spanish investigation authority CIAIAC says in an interim statement that the aircraft had approached over the sea and - while already configured for landing - was nearly 200ft (61m) above the normal glideslope 5nm (9km) from the threshold. 

This excess height increased at around 4.5nm because the aircraft met a cloud layer and the first officer, who was flying, chose to stay above it. By the time the CRJ200's distance from the runway had closed to 2.8nm, it was 725ft above the normal glideslope. 

"[The pilots] then realised that their approach did not meet the stabilised approach criteria, meaning they had to go around," says CIAIAC. 

But executing the normal go-around procedure - a climb to 3,000ft on a 246° radial - would have forced the twinjet into a storm cell. 

"[The captain] also considered the possibility of going around to the right or left, but ruled out both options due to the presence of mountains to the right and other aircraft to the left," adds CIAIAC. 

At a distance of 1nm, the aircraft was still not aligned with the centreline and was more than 600ft above the glideslope. The captain took control and deployed the speedbrakes, increasing the descent rate to around 3,000ft/min, causing the ground-proximity warning system to sound. 

The CRJ200 overflew the threshold at 365ft - far above the normal 50ft - and the jet eventually landed hard, hitting the runway at 3.66g and bouncing for 2s before landing with an impact of 2.45g. None of the 38 occupants was seriously injured. 

Maintenance personnel noted that the landing had resulted in structural damage to the aircraft. Cockpit-voice data was lost, however, because the recorder had remained connected when maintenance staff powered up the jet. 

CIAIAC has not reached conclusions about the 30 July 2011 event, but says it is evaluating human factor issues as well as matters relating to unstable approach training. 

While no-one was injured, the twinjet sustained structural damage