Armavia Flight 967

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Armavia Flight 967
Airbus A320-211 (EK-32009)
Accident summary
Date May 3, 2006 (2006-05-03)
Summary Controlled flight into terrain,
Pilot error
Site 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) off Adler-Sochi International Airport over Black Sea
Passengers 105
Crew 8
Fatalities 113 (all)
Survivors 0
Aircraft type Airbus A320-211
Operator Armavia
Registration EK-32009
Flight origin Zvarnots Airport, Yerevan
Destination Adler Airport, Sochi

Armavia Flight 967 was a flight operated by Armavia, the largest international airline of Armenia on May 3, 2006, from Yerevan in Armenia to Sochi, a Black Sea coastal resort city in Russia. The aircraft crashed into the sea while attempting to conduct a go-around following its first approach to Sochi airport, killing all 113 aboard.

The accident was the first major commercial airline crash in 2006[1] and the third highest death toll of any accident involving an Airbus A320 after Gulf Air Flight 072 and TAM Airlines Flight 3054.[citation needed]

History[edit]

The aircraft was operating a flight from Zvartnots International Airport (EVN) with a scheduled departure time of 01:45 Armenian Daylight Time (20:45 UTC, May 2) and an arrival time at Adler-Sochi International Airport (AER) of 02:00 Moscow Daylight Time (22:00 UTC, May 2).

In order to make their decision for departure, the crew obtained the observed weather data and the weather forecast for the takeoff, landing and alternate aerodromes all of which met the requirements for IFR flights. All the crew were correctly licensed and adequately rested to operate the flight.

The airplane took off from Zvartnots airport at 20:47. There were 113 occupants on board: 105 passengers (including 5 children and 1 infant), 2 pilots,1 aircraft engineer and 5 flight attendants. Takeoff, climb and cruise were uneventful.

The first communication between the Sochi approach controller and the crew took place at 21:10. At that moment the airplane was beyond the coverage area of the Sochi radar. Up until 21:17 the approach controller and the crew discussed the observed and forecast weather, and as a result the crew decided to return to Yerevan. At 21:26, after the decision had already been made, the crew asked the controller about the latest observed weather. At 21:30 the controller informed the crew that visibility was 3,600 metres (2.2 mi) and the cloud ceiling 170 metres (600 ft). At 21:31 the crew decided to continue the flight to Sochi airport.

The next communication with the approach controller was at 22:00. At that moment the aircraft was descending to an altitude of 3,600 metres (12,000 ft) and was being tracked by the Sochi radar. The approach controller cleared the flight for a descent to 1,800 metres (6,000 ft) and reported the observed weather at Sochi, as at 22:00, for runway 06, which was above the minimums.

The crew was then handed over to the holding and tower controllers, and was cleared for descent to 600 metres (2,000 ft), before entering the turn to the final approach. Whilst performing the turn, the runway extended centreline was overshot. After eliminating the deviation, the crew started descending the aircraft along the glide slope, following the approach pattern.

At 22:10 the crew reported that the gear was down and that they were ready for landing. In response they were advised that they were 10 kilometres (6 mi) from the airport and that the weather was now 4,000 metres (2.5 mi) visibility x 190 metres (600 ft) cloud ceiling, and were cleared for landing. However, about 30 seconds later, the controller advised the crew of the observed cloud ceiling at 100 metres (300 ft) and instructed them to cease their descent, abandon the landing attempt, and carry out a right turn and climb to 600 metres (2,000 ft) and also to contact the holding controller, who gives instructions for entering the airport's holding pattern.

The last communication with the crew was at 22:12. After that the crew did not respond to any of the controller’s calls. At 22:13 the aircraft struck the water, it broke up on impact.

Passengers[edit]

Most of the passengers were Armenians.[2] According to reports, the flight had 85 Armenian citizens, 26 Russian citizens, one Georgian citizen, and one Ukrainian citizen.[3]

Nationalities of the passengers and crew[edit]

Nationality Passengers Crew Total
 Armenia 77 8 85
 Russia 26 0 26
 Georgia 1 0 1
 Ukraine 1 0 1
Total 105 8 113

Causes[edit]

Primary Conclusions of the Final Accident Report[edit]

The crash of Armavia Flight 967 was a Controlled flight into terrain (CFIT), specifically water, while conducting a climbing maneuver after an aborted approach to Sochi airport at night with weather conditions below landing minimums for runway 06.

While performing the climb with the autopilot disengaged, the Captain, being in a psychoemotional stress condition, made nose down control inputs due to the loss of pitch and roll awareness. This started the abnormal situation. The Captain's insufficient pitch control inputs led to a failure to recover the aircraft and caused it to crash.

Along with the inadequate control inputs from the Captain, the contributing factors of the crash were also the lack of monitoring the aircraft's pitch attitude, altitude and vertical speed by the First Officer and no proper reaction by the crew to GPWS warnings

Contributory Factors and Shortcomings[edit]

Time Factor or Shortcoming Applicable Policy
During descent and approach the crew constantly held conversations having nothing to do with the operation of the aircraft.
The A320 Flight Crew Training Manual (FCTM), which was approved by the Civil Aviation Administration of the Republic of Armenia and according to which the Captain passed his training before starting flights with the airline, does not contain the requirement for passing the Upgrade to Captain programme. The Captain did not pass this training. This training programme was made mandatory in the next revision of the FCTM. A320 Flight Crew Training Manual (FCTM)
The Flight Operations Department of Armavia does not comply with the requirement that airlines analyse flight operations with the use of the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder recordings for aircraft with the certified maximum takeoff weight exceeding 27,000 kilograms (60,000 lb). As such it was impossible to completely evaluate the professional skill levels of the flight crew members. ROLRGA RA Section 11.2 and ICAO Annex 6 Part 1 Chapter 3
Armavia does not keep records on the approaches and landings in complicated weather conditions performed by their Captains. ROLRGA RA-2000 Sections 4.5.33 and 6.1.5
21:16 Sochi approach control advised the crew of the trend weather forecast for landing as 1,500 metres (1 mi) visibility x 150 metres (500 ft) cloud ceiling and did not identify the trend as “AT TIMES”. This inaccuracy while reporting the weather to the crew was not directly connected with the cause of the aircraft accident, but it influenced the initial decision of the crew to return to Zvartnots.
22:01 The approach controller advised the crew of the observed weather at Sochi and by mistake said the cloud ceiling was “considerable" at 1,800 metres (6,000 ft), instead of 180 metres (600 ft), however this did not influence the Captain’s decision.
22:03 The crew did not report (and the holding controller did not request them to report) the selected system and mode of instrument approach. Holding Controller’s Operation Manual, Section 4, item 4.2.1
22:11 The final controller at Sochi was informed by the weather observer of the current observed weather: A cloud ceiling of 100 metres (300 ft), below the established minimums (cloud ceiling 170 metres (600 ft) and visibility 2,500 metres (1.6 mi)). Based on this information, the final controller instructed the crew: “Abort descent, clouds at 100 metres (300 ft), right-hand turn, climb to 600 metres (2,000 ft)”, instructions not compliant with regulations. However, the controller had a right to order the go-around. Civil Flight Operations Guidance 85 Section 6.5.16 and the Final Controller’s Operation Manual, items 4.3 and 4.3.1
The controller had a right to order the go-around. The AIP of Russia
The weather forecast for Sochi for the period from 18:00 to 03:00 was not verified with regard to visibility in the “At times” group.
22:11 The weather observer did not complete the special weather report when the cloud ceiling descended to 100 metres (300 ft), though to do so was required. Guidance for Meteorological Support in Civil Aviation 95, Sections 4.3.1 and 4.4.1 d; Instruction for meteorological support at Sochi; Criteria for Issuance of a Special Weather Report, Annex 8
The recommendation for ATIS broadcast was not entirely fulfilled. Federal Air Transport Administration and Hydrometeorology and Environment Monitoring Service Joint Order No. 62/41 “On approval and implementation of Instruction for ATIS broadcast content in English and Russian” of 20 March 2000
In the course of reading out FDR data, a number of discrepancies were found in the documentation describing the logic of binary signal recordings.
While performing manoeuvres in the landing configuration with the autopilot and autothrust engaged, the LOW ENERGY WARNING may sound, which Airbus considers as an abnormal situation.

Safety recommendations[edit]

To eliminate the shortcomings revealed during investigation of this accident, the final accident report made 22 safety recommendations as follows:

Number of
Recommendations
Target
5 Aviation administrations of the CIS countries
1 Aviation administrations of the CIS countries jointly with industrial and scientific and research organizations
6 Civil Aviation Administration of the Republic of Armenia and Armavia airline administration
2 Federal Air Navigation Service of the Russian Federation
2 Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring
2 Federal State Unitary Enterprise “State Corporation for Air Traffic Management"
4 Airbus Industrie

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Kebabjian, Richard. "PlaneCrashInfo.com". Archived from the original on 16 July 2006. Retrieved 2006-06-20. 
  2. ^ "In pictures:Armenian plane crash"
  3. ^ "Hunt for Armenia air crash bodies." BBC. Wednesday 3 May 2006. Retrieved on 20 September 2011.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 43°27′00″N 39°57′24″E / 43.45000°N 39.95667°E / 43.45000; 39.95667