Gulf Air Flight 072

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Gulf Air Flight 072
A Gulf Air Airbus A320-212, similar to the one involved.
Accident summary
Date 23 August 2000 (2000-08-23)
Summary Pilot error, spatial disorientation
Site Persian Gulf, Bahrain
Passengers 135
Crew 8
Fatalities 143 (all)
Survivors 0
Aircraft type Airbus A320-212
Operator Gulf Air
Registration A4O-EK

Gulf Air Flight 072 was a regularly-scheduled flight from Cairo to Manama. On August 23, 2000, the Airbus A320 serving the flight crashed into the shallow waters of the Persian Gulf 5 kilometers from the airport.[1] All 143 on board the aircraft were killed.

Incident[edit]

The A320 with 143 passengers and crew on board approached the landing at higher speeds than normal and carried out an unusual low altitude orbit in an attempt to correct the approach.[2][3] The orbit was unsuccessful and a go around was attempted. While carrying out a turning climb, the aircraft entered a descent at 15 degrees nose down. The aircrew did not respond to repeated GPWS warnings[4] and approximately one minute after starting the go-around the aircraft disappeared from radar screens.[5] There were no survivors. There were 36 children on the aircraft.[6] The accident investigation concluded that the primary cause of the crash was pilot error (including spatial disorientation), with a secondary factor being systemic organizational and oversight issues.[7]

Flight 072 was the highest death toll of any accident involving an Airbus A320 at that time. It was subsequently surpassed by TAM Airlines Flight 3054, which crashed on 17 July 2007 with 199 fatalities.

After the accident Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa, the Emir of Bahrain, declared three days of national mourning.[8]

After the crash, the flight designator has been changed from GF072 to GF070.

Investigation[edit]

The investigation showed that no single factor was responsible for the accident to GF-072. The accident was the result of a fatal combination of many contributory factors, both at the individual and systemic levels.

  1. The individual factors particularly during the approach and final phases of the flight were:
    1. The captain did not adhere to a number of SOPs, such as:
      1. significantly higher than standard aircraft speeds during the descent and the first approach
      2. not stabilising the approach on the correct approach path; performing an orbit, a non-standard manoeuvre, close to the runway at low altitude
      3. not performing the correct go-around procedure
      4. other related items
    2. In spite of a number of deviations from the standard flight parameters and profile, the first officer (PNF) did not call them out, or draw the attention of the captain to them, as required by SOPs.
    3. A perceptual study indicated that during the go-around after the orbit, it appears that the flight crew experienced spatial disorientation, which could have caused the captain to perceive (falsely) that the aircraft was ‘pitching up’. He responded by making a ‘nose-down’ input, and as a result, the aircraft descended and flew into the shallow sea.
    4. Neither the captain nor the first officer perceived, or effectively responded to, the threat of increasing proximity to the ground, in spite of repeated hard GPWS warnings.
  2. The systemic factors, identified at the time of the above accident, which could have led to the above individual factors, were:
    1. Organisational factors (Gulf Air):
      1. A lack of training in CRM contributing to the flight crew not performing as an effective team in operating the aircraft.
      2. Inadequacy in the airline's A320 training programmes, such as: adherence to SOPs, CFIT, and GPWS responses.
      3. The airline’s flight data analysis system was not functioning satisfactorily, and the flight safety department had a number of deficiencies.
      4. Cases of non-compliance, and inadequate or slow responses in taking corrective actions to rectify them, on the part of the airline in some critical regulatory areas, were identified during three years preceding the accident.
    2. Safety oversight factors:

A review of about three years preceding the accident indicated that despite intensive efforts, the DGCAM as a regulatory authority could not make the operator comply with some critical regulatory requirements.

The chairperson of the accident investigation board adopted the report on 10 July 2002.[9]

Nationalities of passengers[edit]

An official from the United States State Department said a diplomatic courier was among the passengers. One Egyptian man who was supposed to board the flight did not board because the immigration officials in Cairo found that his Bahrain work permit was not in order.[8]

Nationality Passengers Crew Total
 Australia 1 0 1
 Bahrain 34 2 36
 Canada 1 0 1
 People's Republic of China 3 0 3
 Egypt 63 1 64
 India 0 1 1
 Kuwait 1 0 1
 Morocco 0 1 1
 Oman 1 1 2
 Palestine 9 0 9
 Philippines 0 1 1
 Poland 0 1 1
 Saudi Arabia 12 0 12
 Sudan 1 0 1
 United Arab Emirates 6 0 6
 United Kingdom 2 0 2
 United States 1 0 1
Total 135 8 143

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ "Airbus A320 A40-EK accident record". Aviation Safety Network. ..significantly higher than standard aircraft speeds during the descent and the first approach... ...performing an orbit, a non-standard manoeuvre, close to the runway at low altitude".. 
  3. ^ Civil Aviation Authority of Bahrain. "ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION REPORT Gulf Air Flight GF-072". Archived from the original on 12 February 2004. 
  4. ^ Civil Aviation Authority of Bahrain. "ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION REPORT Gulf Air Flight GF-072". 4b. The analysis of FDR and CVR recordings indicated that neither the captain nor the first officer perceived, or effectively responded to, the threat of the aircraft's increasing proximity to the ground in spite of repeated hard GPWS warnings... 
  5. ^ Bureau Enquetes-Accidents. "Airbus A320 A4O-EK accident record – Graphic – A40-EK Flight Path derived from Lat and Long FDR Parameters". Aviation Safety Network. 
  6. ^ "pe_03.html." CBS News. Retrieved on 9 June 2009.
  7. ^ "Airbus A320 A4O-EK accident record". Aviation Safety Network. The investigation showed that no single factor was responsible for the accident to GF-072. The accident was the result of a fatal combination of many contributory factors, both at the individual and systemic levels. 
  8. ^ a b "Bodies recovered from Gulf Air crash." BBC. 24 August 2000. Retrieved on 2 February 2009.
  9. ^ "Appendix A." Final Accident Report.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 26°17′20″N 50°38′00″E / 26.28889°N 50.63333°E / 26.28889; 50.63333