A pilot put the safety of six crew and 128 passengers at risk
when he failed to initiate a mandatory missed approach when
landing in foggy conditions, a transport watchdog has
The incident occurred on October 29, 2011 during an Air New
Zealand flight from Auckland to Christchurch, the Transport
Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) said in a report
The captain was flying the aircraft while the first officer
was monitoring. A check captain was also on the flight deck
conducting an annual route check on the captain.
Six crew and 128 passengers were on board the flight, the
When the flight departed Auckland, the forecast weather
conditions for Christchurch were favourable for a successful
landing. However, conditions at Christchurch deteriorated en
route, with low cloud and fog restricting visibility on the
approach path to the runway.
The Boeing 737 made a standard instrument approach to the
runway from the south, allowing the aircraft to descend to
'decision height' at 200 feet.
At that point the captain had to decide if he had the
required visual reference to continue the approach - being
able to witness the runway approach lights.
It was mandatory to initiate a missed approach and go around
for another attempt if the pilot could not not make visual
reference, the report stated.
The aeroplane was still in cloud and fog when it reached 200
feet, but the captain did not initiate a missed approach.
Both the first officer and the check captain were about to
intervene when the runway approach lights became visible at
about 100 feet.
The captain then landed the aeroplane.
The lack of a visual reference and the failure to initiate a
missed approach was a safety issue, the TAIC determined.
The captain also failed to respond to two other procedural
check calls which went unchallenged by the first officer -
another safety issue.
The TAIC determined the captain failed to comply with the
procedures and perform the mandatory missed approach because
he was under stress brought on by the anxiety of having the
check captain on board, the Canterbury earthquakes and other
personal health issues.
The TAIC also determined that the captain's failures should
have been picked up and challenged by the first officer
before the aeroplane reached decision height.
A statement from Air New Zealand this morning said it
accepted the findings of the report.
"New Zealand self-reported this incident to TAIC at the time
it occurred (2011) and has, in the interim, used this
incident to reinforce to its pilots the need to strictly
adhere to standard operating procedures.
"The captain no longer works for the airline, he retired
shortly after the incident occurred."
- Brendan Manning of APNZ