Indian airline GoAir’s botched landing at Bengaluru Airport (BLR) could have easily ended in a deadly disaster. GoAir landing with insufficient runway length available was bad enough. But, continuing with a take-off outside the runway into the unpaved area added to the chain of events.
To top it off, the left engine of the A320 Neo plane seized sometime during the climb out, perhaps from some sort of indigestion from the grassy area?
No conclusion can be had at this early time, but poor visibility appears to have been a contributing factor at the beginning of the chain of events.
About 185 people were on board Flight G8-811, which major incident could have easily turned into a major accident with loss of lives.
GoAir’s attempted landing out of runway was just the beginning
Did the pilot realize there was not enough stopping distance on the remaining runway length and then did he decide to engage take-off thrust and lift off again?
The problem if that’s the case, however, was that the plane continued past the paved runway end and ended up in the grass field straight ahead with the wheels rolling on the grass!
The chain of events could have stopped right there had they just come to a full stop when able to in the grass field. They were already extremely fortunate to have survived running out of runway on the touchdown.
Airports typically have barriers, navigation ground equipment, ditches, road traffic, and more adjacent to the end of a runway.
GoAir’s passengers and crew were able to run out of runway surface unharmed. This only thanks to no barriers being present at this sparsely built-out runway end- area.
Hitting an obstacle during acceleration and initial climb could have spelled a total disaster.
What the pilots decided to do next
The pilots then decided to hold (circling) above the Bengaluru airport, which had inclement weather at the time with low visibility, evaluating another possible landing attempt in the low visibility.
The hold was performed with the one remaining engine working. Had both engines seized the plane would have become a glider in poor visibility.
The decision was then made to divert to Hyderabad Airport (HYD), 354Miles/570KM to the north, where it finally landed.
Clearly attempting to dismiss the incident as a simple go-around GoAir issued the following statement:
GoAir Glight G8-811 from Nagpur to Bengaluru had carried out a go-around at Bengaluru and diverted to Hyderabad. All the passengers, crew and aircraft landed safely at Hyderabad. This reportable incident was reported immediately to the DGCA. Pending the investigation by GoAir and the regulator, the flight crew have been kept off flying duty”.
BLR Bengaluru Airport, India
BLR Airport is one of the better-equipped airports in the region. Runway 09/27 is 10,850 feet long with asphalt, and it is equipped with an ILS precision instrument approach.
So, what went wrong?
We won’t have the answer for a long time. The answer to what went wrong will be up to the Indian investigators to determine.
I do not, however, know whether the ILS (Instrument Landing System) was used or working at the time of landing. Plus, I don’t know the type of approach the pilots performed. Since the visibility was reported as poor I would imagine a visual approach was out of the question, especially if the weather was below visual minimums.
Touch and go or a go-around event?
Since we don’t know the details at this time, one important question that also comes to my mind is whether the incident was touch and go event or a go-around:
Touch and go
In a touch and go the pilot lands on a runway and takes off again without coming to a full stop.
Did the pilot physically land too far down the (very long) runway, perhaps realizing he did not have enough stopping distance left, then taking off again, but running out of remaining runway surface before lift-off?
But, with such a long runway available to land on, what went wrong?
A “go-around” is defined as a maneuver performed when you abort a landing while you are on the final approach while still in the air.
So, the question is, if GoAir performed a go-around, what caused the plane to touch down in the grass?
Supplemental information: In the U.S. NAVY, we have a different (non-civilian) term and meaning for a go-around, called “wave-off”, where, unlike a civilian go-around, you indeed touch down on the deck (runway).
Comments from Indian Aviation Officials
A Directorate General of Civil Aviation official of India said,
“Due to poor visibility at Bengaluru, the pilots aborted the landing and initiated a go-around. After landing at Hyderabad, mud deposits were observed on left landing gear indicating the aircraft had rolled onto unpaved surface”.
The Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in India Arun Kumar said the crew, as well as the airplane, had been grounded in Hyderabad for detailed investigation. He also stated that data from the Digital Flight Data Recorder along with other recorders are being analyzed.
An eerily similar previous landing scenario
An eerily similar scenario took place in India in 2010. An Air India Express B737 ran out of runway in Mangalore Airport (IXE) during landing (Flight 812, from Dubai to Mangalore).
Cause of incident
Months could pass before we find out any more details from the incident. So many factors come to play investigating aviation incidents and accidents. What do you think happened? Are India’s pilot training and the overall aviation structure up to par with today’s strict aviation safety requirements in many other countries?
We’d like to hear from you! Contact us here. Your comments could be included in a possible update to this article in the future.
Safe flying everybody!
Featured Image: GoAir.