|37000 Feet||Browse and search NASA's
Aviation Safety Reporting System
|Local Time Of Day||0601 To 1200|
|Locale Reference||airport : san.airport|
|Altitude||msl single value : 5000|
|Controlling Facilities||tracon : sct.tracon|
|Operator||common carrier : air carrier|
|Make Model Name||B737-700|
|Operating Under FAR Part||Part 121|
|Navigation In Use||other|
|Flight Phase||descent : intermediate altitude|
|Affiliation||company : air carrier|
|Function||flight crew : captain|
oversight : pic
|Experience||flight time last 90 days : 213|
|Affiliation||company : air carrier|
|Function||flight crew : first officer|
|Experience||flight time last 90 days : 216|
flight time type : 4308
|Independent Detector||other flight crewa|
other flight crewb
|Resolutory Action||flight crew : regained aircraft control|
Flight Crew Human Performance
ATC Human Performance
|Primary Problem||Flight Crew Human Performance|
Pitiful ATC handling induced go-around followed by repeated inept handling/procedures and poor flight management resulting in dangerously slow approach speed. We were on right downwind at 5000 feet being vectored for localizer 27 approach at san. The controller was extremely busy with light aircraft going into montgomery airport beneath us. Controller turned us base at about 8 miles at 5000 feet MSL and cleared us for the approach. Our aircraft was relatively heavy (approximately 123000 pounds) and there was a left quartering tailwind of about 8 knots at our altitude. The first officer was a bit slow configuring the aircraft (given our proximity to the final approach fix and high altitude). I was concerned that the approach was not going to work. The controller switched us to the tower over the FAF. I stated at that time that I didn't think it would work. We crossed the FAF approximately 1000 feet high in IMC conditions. I instructed the first officer to go around. The tower attempted to talk us into landing unaware of our predicament. We were vectored around for another approach and put into approximately the same scenario again with the exception that the first officer was more aggressive and conservative configuring the aircraft with landing gear and flaps. We were turned onto base at about 8 miles once again but not cleared for the approach. Then the controller seemed to realize that maybe we were too high once again. He gave us a turn away from the runway to the southeast. This took us through the localizer. We were still at 5000 ft. He then turned us back to join the localizer but withheld approach clearance. I conveyed to him that we needed approach clearance or lower. He asked us two or three times if we were on the localizer. We stated we were on the localizer. During this time compressed period we had already configured to flaps 40. The first officer may have been slow in applying sufficient power for level flight at flaps 40. I didn't notice our airspeed until it was about 95 knots. This was about 38 knots below our targeted airspeed of 132 KIAS. The first officer and myself simultaneously applied emergency thrust; disconnected the autopilot and lowered the nose trimming the aircraft. The pitch up momentum with full thrust and the excessive nose up trim from the autopilot attempting to hold 5000 feet made this recovery very scary for both of us. The airplane was extremely lethargic. Lowering the nose was the only thing that allowed us to restore our airspeed. We did not; however; have a stick shaker to the best of my recollection. Obviously I as the captain should have initiated a go-around before the situation deteriorated this far. Further; I should have more closely monitored the airspeed and recognized the slowing trend sooner. We were anticipating approach clearance and a descent and frankly were dumbfounded that it was not issued. The controller seemed to be competent and certainly was not 'new.' I feel that he did not fully understand the problem that we face in instrument conditions versus a visual approach scenario. It appeared to me that he had just relieved the previous controller while we were downwind for the first approach. I even remarked to the first officer that 'this guy is good.' I am a former military air traffic controller and feel I can recognize competence in a controller in busy scenarios. I think that perhaps he has witnessed company jets make that approach from that same position so often that he was likely perplexed at our inability to do so. I doubt he was aware of our specific problems due to the tailwind aloft and the relatively high landing weight. Further I surmise that perhaps since the field was VFR he may not have considered the ramifications of us having to shoot an approach with more conservative criteria and procedural requirements. Nonetheless I ultimately am responsible for the operation of the aircraft and I reiterate that I should have recognized the 'fubar' aspect of the wholeevent and aborted it sooner. I suspect that we were restricted to 5000 due to light aircraft on approach to montgomery. I don't know this for a fact. I would offer that in the future san approach might consider a longer downwind as well as consideration of winds aloft visibility-a-visibility tailwind. If I may suggest that they be educated on our (company) evolving flight operations philosophy and trend toward more stabilized approaches. It seems that our 'new' and safer procedures are putting us at odds with ATC. Perhaps they need to understand that we are becoming more conservative regarding stabilized approaches or lack thereof and come up with an effective response that will enhance our mutual task as well as our relationship with ATC.
Original NASA ASRS Text
Title: A B737-700 FLIGHT CREW ALLOWED THEIR SPEED TO BECOME DANGEROUSLY LOW ON APPROACH TO SAN.
Narrative: PITIFUL ATC HANDLING INDUCED GO-AROUND FOLLOWED BY REPEATED INEPT HANDLING/PROCEDURES AND POOR FLIGHT MANAGEMENT RESULTING IN DANGEROUSLY SLOW APPROACH SPEED. WE WERE ON RIGHT DOWNWIND AT 5000 FEET BEING VECTORED FOR LOCALIZER 27 APPROACH AT SAN. THE CONTROLLER WAS EXTREMELY BUSY WITH LIGHT AIRCRAFT GOING INTO MONTGOMERY AIRPORT BENEATH US. CONTROLLER TURNED US BASE AT ABOUT 8 MILES AT 5000 FEET MSL AND CLEARED US FOR THE APPROACH. OUR AIRCRAFT WAS RELATIVELY HEAVY (APPROXIMATELY 123000 LBS) AND THERE WAS A LEFT QUARTERING TAILWIND OF ABOUT 8 KNOTS AT OUR ALTITUDE. THE FIRST OFFICER WAS A BIT SLOW CONFIGURING THE AIRCRAFT (GIVEN OUR PROXIMITY TO THE FINAL APPROACH FIX AND HIGH ALTITUDE). I WAS CONCERNED THAT THE APPROACH WAS NOT GOING TO WORK. THE CONTROLLER SWITCHED US TO THE TOWER OVER THE FAF. I STATED AT THAT TIME THAT I DIDN'T THINK IT WOULD WORK. WE CROSSED THE FAF APPROXIMATELY 1000 FEET HIGH IN IMC CONDITIONS. I INSTRUCTED THE FIRST OFFICER TO GO AROUND. THE TOWER ATTEMPTED TO TALK US INTO LANDING UNAWARE OF OUR PREDICAMENT. WE WERE VECTORED AROUND FOR ANOTHER APPROACH AND PUT INTO APPROXIMATELY THE SAME SCENARIO AGAIN WITH THE EXCEPTION THAT THE FIRST OFFICER WAS MORE AGGRESSIVE AND CONSERVATIVE CONFIGURING THE AIRCRAFT WITH LANDING GEAR AND FLAPS. WE WERE TURNED ONTO BASE AT ABOUT 8 MILES ONCE AGAIN BUT NOT CLEARED FOR THE APPROACH. THEN THE CONTROLLER SEEMED TO REALIZE THAT MAYBE WE WERE TOO HIGH ONCE AGAIN. HE GAVE US A TURN AWAY FROM THE RUNWAY TO THE SOUTHEAST. THIS TOOK US THROUGH THE LOCALIZER. WE WERE STILL AT 5000 FT. HE THEN TURNED US BACK TO JOIN THE LOCALIZER BUT WITHHELD APPROACH CLEARANCE. I CONVEYED TO HIM THAT WE NEEDED APPROACH CLEARANCE OR LOWER. HE ASKED US TWO OR THREE TIMES IF WE WERE ON THE LOCALIZER. WE STATED WE WERE ON THE LOCALIZER. DURING THIS TIME COMPRESSED PERIOD WE HAD ALREADY CONFIGURED TO FLAPS 40. THE FIRST OFFICER MAY HAVE BEEN SLOW IN APPLYING SUFFICIENT POWER FOR LEVEL FLIGHT AT FLAPS 40. I DIDN'T NOTICE OUR AIRSPEED UNTIL IT WAS ABOUT 95 KNOTS. THIS WAS ABOUT 38 KNOTS BELOW OUR TARGETED AIRSPEED OF 132 KIAS. THE FIRST OFFICER AND MYSELF SIMULTANEOUSLY APPLIED EMERGENCY THRUST; DISCONNECTED THE AUTOPILOT AND LOWERED THE NOSE TRIMMING THE AIRCRAFT. THE PITCH UP MOMENTUM WITH FULL THRUST AND THE EXCESSIVE NOSE UP TRIM FROM THE AUTOPILOT ATTEMPTING TO HOLD 5000 FEET MADE THIS RECOVERY VERY SCARY FOR BOTH OF US. THE AIRPLANE WAS EXTREMELY LETHARGIC. LOWERING THE NOSE WAS THE ONLY THING THAT ALLOWED US TO RESTORE OUR AIRSPEED. WE DID NOT; HOWEVER; HAVE A STICK SHAKER TO THE BEST OF MY RECOLLECTION. OBVIOUSLY I AS THE CAPTAIN SHOULD HAVE INITIATED A GO-AROUND BEFORE THE SITUATION DETERIORATED THIS FAR. FURTHER; I SHOULD HAVE MORE CLOSELY MONITORED THE AIRSPEED AND RECOGNIZED THE SLOWING TREND SOONER. WE WERE ANTICIPATING APPROACH CLEARANCE AND A DESCENT AND FRANKLY WERE DUMBFOUNDED THAT IT WAS NOT ISSUED. THE CONTROLLER SEEMED TO BE COMPETENT AND CERTAINLY WAS NOT 'NEW.' I FEEL THAT HE DID NOT FULLY UNDERSTAND THE PROBLEM THAT WE FACE IN INSTRUMENT CONDITIONS VERSUS A VISUAL APPROACH SCENARIO. IT APPEARED TO ME THAT HE HAD JUST RELIEVED THE PREVIOUS CONTROLLER WHILE WE WERE DOWNWIND FOR THE FIRST APPROACH. I EVEN REMARKED TO THE FIRST OFFICER THAT 'THIS GUY IS GOOD.' I AM A FORMER MILITARY AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLER AND FEEL I CAN RECOGNIZE COMPETENCE IN A CONTROLLER IN BUSY SCENARIOS. I THINK THAT PERHAPS HE HAS WITNESSED COMPANY JETS MAKE THAT APPROACH FROM THAT SAME POSITION SO OFTEN THAT HE WAS LIKELY PERPLEXED AT OUR INABILITY TO DO SO. I DOUBT HE WAS AWARE OF OUR SPECIFIC PROBLEMS DUE TO THE TAILWIND ALOFT AND THE RELATIVELY HIGH LANDING WEIGHT. FURTHER I SURMISE THAT PERHAPS SINCE THE FIELD WAS VFR HE MAY NOT HAVE CONSIDERED THE RAMIFICATIONS OF US HAVING TO SHOOT AN APPROACH WITH MORE CONSERVATIVE CRITERIA AND PROCEDURAL REQUIREMENTS. NONETHELESS I ULTIMATELY AM RESPONSIBLE FOR THE OPERATION OF THE AIRCRAFT AND I REITERATE THAT I SHOULD HAVE RECOGNIZED THE 'FUBAR' ASPECT OF THE WHOLEEVENT AND ABORTED IT SOONER. I SUSPECT THAT WE WERE RESTRICTED TO 5000 DUE TO LIGHT AIRCRAFT ON APPROACH TO MONTGOMERY. I DON'T KNOW THIS FOR A FACT. I WOULD OFFER THAT IN THE FUTURE SAN APPROACH MIGHT CONSIDER A LONGER DOWNWIND AS WELL AS CONSIDERATION OF WINDS ALOFT VIS-A-VIS TAILWIND. IF I MAY SUGGEST THAT THEY BE EDUCATED ON OUR (COMPANY) EVOLVING FLIGHT OPERATIONS PHILOSOPHY AND TREND TOWARD MORE STABILIZED APPROACHES. IT SEEMS THAT OUR 'NEW' AND SAFER PROCEDURES ARE PUTTING US AT ODDS WITH ATC. PERHAPS THEY NEED TO UNDERSTAND THAT WE ARE BECOMING MORE CONSERVATIVE REGARDING STABILIZED APPROACHES OR LACK THEREOF AND COME UP WITH AN EFFECTIVE RESPONSE THAT WILL ENHANCE OUR MUTUAL TASK AS WELL AS OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH ATC.
Data retrieved from NASA's ASRS site as of January 2009 and automatically converted to unabbreviated mixed upper/lowercase text. This report is for informational purposes with no guarantee of accuracy. See NASA's ASRS site for official report.