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Crew Error Behind Emirates A380 Descending Too Low In Moscow

In September 2017, an Emirates A380 carrying 448 passengers and crew was descending through the nighttime darkness to land at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport. Nothing unusual about that. What gave this flight a certain edge was that it was just 504ft above the ground and descending at 1,600 feet per minute. It was also over seven nautical miles out of Domodedovo. ( Ещё...

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patrick baker 10
in some cases, an observant final approach controller might as "emirates flight such and such, say altitude".. If the pilots didn't get it swiftly, then plain english would be said- "emeirate flight such and such, stop descent, now." and possibly, go around and try again. Somebody had their heads up their butts on this approach. No excuse will suffice here or ever.
Chris Hann 6
Two of them really, pilot flying and pilot monitoring.
Andy Bowland 13
Honestly the real issue is the safety culture at EK, and other foreign airlines. In the US and Canada we use a non-punitive style of safety, where we can "self disclose" in a situation like this, it will be investigated, but the result will--most likely--be information published to the pilot group so everyone can learn about the issue.

EK, among others, uses a fear based style of safety culture. Where crews make decisions based on fear of punishment--EK521--where the fear of a long landing caused the crew to preform a go-around that lead to the crash. Where the FOQA or QAR data is used to punish crews not to teach crews.
Coalora 14
You're right, but most armchair accident investigators can't/won't understand it. This was a big reason and a primary cause of the Lion Air 737 MAX crash, that the crew intentionally continued to fly an aircraft that—due to poor maintenance—wasn't airworthy because they and the cabin crew would have been penalized for not completing the flight. This is why the previous crew flew that aircraft from China to Indonesia with the stick shaker activated the entire flight.

When an atmosphere exists where pilots feel they will be punished for complaining about problems, and doubly punished for landing a sick plane rather than flying it anyway, you get preventable tragedies.
Thomas Frisch 1
The previous flight of the Lion Air 610 machine was from Bali (not China) to Jakarta. The stick shaker activated only on the captain's side and the captain correctly identified the cause as information-related, not indicative of an actual impending stall.The co-pilot manually flew the aircraft to Jakarta. Due to installation on the left side of a faulty AOA sensor in Bali, MCAS did cut in, resulting in repeated bursts of nose-down trim but luckily an off-duty captain in the jump seat advised manually switching off the electric trim. After arrival in Jakarta, for some reason, the various faults were not followed up by the maintenance staff and the aircraft was cleared for flight. Thus the crew of Flt 610 was at an enormous disadvantage.
Tom Bruce 2
yeah...used NASA safety program back in 1970s
SkyAware123 2
...and at no point one of the pilots looked outside and thought; hey we're way too low ??? wtf.
Highflyer1950 2
Transition level/altitude missed maybe?
Capt. LArry Whitesell 2
More likely a confusion between QNH and QFE as used in Russia
Robert Mack 1
Yes sir, Captain - QFE / QNH // Alt / Height Conversion / Feet to Meters / Meters to Feet - excellent analysis!
Tom Bruce 2
as an old controller I can attest to many instances where there's little going on...everyone lulled into false sense of security and stuff happens.. seen it too many times, myself involved ... this incident? any other traffic?
paul gilpin 3
what i find interesting is an A380 with 448 passengers on board.
usually there is less than half that.
Tom Bruce 2
jeez... do all pilots rely completely on some automated system? Arab speaking English... Russian controller speaking English... Controller asleep at the scope? thank god for terrain avoidance warning.. What am I missing?
ffrcobra1 17
I wouldn’t count on an “Arab speaking English” having anything to do with this incident. Many expatriates from western countries fly for Emirates. I personally know of two just from my previous employer who fly there. Westerners have been trying to fly perfectly good planes into the ground for as long as anyone.
Tom Bruce 1
mentioned the Russian controller non standard language-- who knows who's flying Emirates?
Jasper Buck 1
QNE, QNH, QFE, yikes. Best just to fly in VMC conditions between the hours of sunrise and sunset using VFR rules and look out the window whilst flying the correct QDMs and QDRs. <g>


J Buck
ICAO PANS-OPS panelist (Ret.)

P.s. Please reference ICAO PANS-OPS Doc 8400 for all the pertinent Q-codes.
Mark Paladino 1
Pilots don't appear to fly the airplane much anymore - they have become button pushers - And have little concept of how the equipment and systems work.
Dolf Brouwers 1
Trust software and you get accidents .......
john doe 1
Agreed. I yearn for the old days, before the advent of all this "pilot-assisting" equipment, when air travel was much safer.
pjdm 1
Here is a sad comparison. The EGPWS system has been incredibly successful and prevented this flight from becoming a disaster. EGPWS is time tested and reliable. This crew was able to respond to the warning and take corrective action. In the 737Max crashes, the EGPWS system was not integrated into the response systems and was given lower priority in the decision tree than a sole AOA device. Even the crew had no ability to reply to the EGPWS warnings which are considered high priority and indicative of imminent impact. All of those decades of EGPWS development and improvements were used to save this Emirates flight and a disoriented crew. It is a shame it was put on the back burner for the Max because it does save lives and ships from touching earth at the wrong location. Bravo to all EGPWS engineers over the last 30 years.
Tom Bruce 2
was controller at Sacramento... Flying Tiger DC-8-63 was up checking their new GPWS.. they'd do a touch and go, pull up, then dive toward the ground... funny thing south end of RWY Interstate 5 North... every time the plane dived we could see smoke from all the trucks braking violently
I have been away, QFE/QNH & punitive action are in play. Lose face, all of those items are in play, but how can they be corrected ?? Auto systems are wonderful, but you have to know & use. I was almost down checked 'cause I hand flew 747 approach to JFK "we paid for auto system,use it". I was told trying to get a job with far east type airlines after Pan Am went bye,bye.
mmc7090 -1
Looks like they could have used more time in the EMB 110 actually learning to fly.
Toks Orike -1
Emirates pilots flying the A380 must retrain especially on this issue. I had the same experience on an A380 Emirates flight from London to Dubai last year December. Where flying so low over Iraq, I could see cars and people below from the window. I was convinced something was not right when my phone connected to the Iraq network and I got a SMS saying welcome to Iraq you are roaming etc. I know the phone should have been switched off. I probably forgot as I was playing games on it prior to take off.
Peter Fuller 2
Yikes! When over Iraq you’re still at least 500 miles out from Dubai.


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