|CAAA: CLOSED ACCEPTABLE ALTERNATE ACTION
On August 6, 1997, about 0142:26 Guam local time, Korean Air flight 801, a Boeing 747-3B5B (747-300), Korean registration HL7468, operated by Korean Air Company, Ltd., crashed at Nimitz Hill, Guam. Flight 801 departed from Kimpo International Airport, Seoul, Korea, with 2 pilots, 1 flight engineer, 14 flight attendants, and 237 passengers on board. The airplane had been cleared to land on runway 6L at A.B. Won Guam International Airport, Agana, Guam, and crashed into high terrain about 3 miles southwest of the airport. Of the 254 persons on board, 228 were killed, and 23 passengers and 3 flight attendants survived the accident with serious injuries. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces and a postcrash fire. Flight 801 was operating in U.S. airspace as a regularly scheduled international passenger service flight under the Convention of International Civil Aviation and the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 129 and was on an instrument flight rules flight plan.
A-00-13. Require that all air carrier airplanes that have been equipped with on-board navigational systems capable of providing vertical flightpath guidance make use of these systems for flying nonprecision approaches whenever terrain factors allow a constant angle of descent with a safe gradient.
FAA LTR DTD: 4/4/00
The FAA is currently conducting research under the Safer Skies Agenda on the issues outlined in these recommendations. Specifically, the Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) Joint Safety Implementation team has developed an implementation plan for precision-like approaches. The purpose of the plan is to identify the means by which all flightcrews can fly an appropriate stabilized vertical path to runway touchdown for all instrument approach procedures, thereby reducing the possibility of a CFIT accident. The plan was approved by the Commercial Aviation Safety Team on March 16, 2000.
I will keep the Board informed of the FAA's progress on these safety recommendations.
NTSB LTR DTD: 6/27/00
The FAA reports that it is currently conducting research under the Safer Skies Agenda on the issues outlined in these recommendations. The FAA reports that the Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) Joint Safety Implementation team has developed an implementation plan for precision-like approaches, the purpose of which is to identify the means by which all flight crews can fly an appropriate stabilized vertical path to runway touchdown for all instrument approach procedures, thereby reducing the possibility of a CFIT accident. The Safety Board is unaware of specific research or action by the FAA under these programs to address the Board's concerns about monitored approaches and pilot proficiency in conducting the current non-precision procedures; however, the Board welcomes additional information from the FAA about these concerns. Pending the results of the FAA's research on use of the monitored approach method and the results of the CFIT team's implementation plan, Safety Recommendations A-00-10, A-00-11, and A-00-13 are classified "Open Acceptable Response."
FAA LTR DTD: 8/21/01
The FAA completed a study and analysis that resulted in an industry/FAA, NASA, DOD, JAA, Transport Canada, and ICAO decision that constant angle, constant rate-of-descent flight paths should always be used when conducting nonprecision approaches, regardless of the level of technology in the flight deck unless specific local conditions dictate otherwise. In cases where specific local conditions dictate otherwise, special training and special operating procedures would apply. Accordingly, a stabilized approach has been adopted as a standard operating procedure for air carrier operators of transport-category airplanes.
While not required by FAA regulations, voluntary conversion to the constant angle, constant rate-of-descent during nonprecision approaches has been widely implemented by U.S. air carriers. This voluntary conversion promises to be universal in the near future among those air carriers operating under 14 CFR Part 121. The conversion is occurring rapidly among the operators of airplanes that have been equipped with onboard navigational systems capable of providing vertical flightpath guidance. As more new airplanes are delivered in the United States containing onboard navigational systems capable of providing vertical flightpath guidance, the population of airplanes so equipped increases while older, unequipped airplanes are being retired. Accordingly, the safety effects intended by this safety recommendation are already recognized and will continue without a regulatory change.
Additional guidance to air carriers relating to stabilized approach using flight management systems with VNAV capability has been issued in Flight Standards Handbook Bulletin for Air Transportation 99-08, Vertical Navigation (VNAV) Approach Procedures Using DA(H); OpSpec C073, and Flight Standards Handbook Bulletin for Air Transportation 00-18, Use of BARO-VNAV for Published Instrument Approach Procedures; OpSpec C052 Revision. I have enclosed copies of these bulletins for the Board's information.
I believe that FAA's actions and the actions taken by the air carriers voluntarily meet the full intent of this safety recommendation, and I consider the FAA's action to be completed.
NTSB LTR DTD: 1/23/02
The FAA reports that the safety effects intended by this recommendation are already recognized and will be accomplished without a regulatory change. The FAA indicates that it completed a study and analysis in conjunction with industry, NASA, DOD, JAA, Transport Canada, and ICAO that resulted in a decision that constant angle, constant rate-of-descent flightpaths should always be used when conducting nonprecision approaches, regardless of the level of technology in the flight deck unless specific local conditions dictate otherwise. The FAA states that, although not required by FAA regulations, U. S. air carriers have widely and voluntarily converted to using constant angle, constant rate-of-descent procedures during nonprecision approaches. The FAA believes that this voluntary conversion promises to be universal in the near future among 14 CFR Part 121 air carriers.
Although the Safety Board is pleased to learn that air carriers are acting quickly, the Board believes that the FAA should issue a regulation to require the use of vertical flight guidance, when available, during nonprecision approaches. The Board is concerned that in the future, in the absence of such a requirement, air carriers may not equip their aircraft with navigational systems capable of providing flight guidance or may not implement procedures requiring its use during nonprecision approaches. Although the quick actions of the FAA and the carriers are commendable, the Board asks the FAA to reconsider the need for a requirement. Pending development and issuance of such a requirement, Safety Recommendation A-00-13 is classified "Open Unacceptable Response."
NTSB LTR DTD: 5/18/04
The FAA reported that an approach and landing accident reduction (ALAR) survey conducted in late 2002 by its principal operations inspectors of all 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 121 air carriers showed a nearly universal implementation of the requirement to use a constant-angle approach profile whenever possible. The FAA reiterated that the Commercial Air Safety Team (CAST) member organizations have ratified the ALAR training guide, which was the source document for the survey. This guide emphasizes the need for constant angle, constant rate of descent paths for nonprecision approaches.
The Safety Board appreciates the work of the FAA and CAST in providing emphasis on the need for constant angle paths on nonprecision approaches. It appears that this widespread implementation, with the FAA's and CAST's continued guidance, will continue in the future. Therefore, the Board accepts the FAA's and CAST's guidance as an acceptable alternative to the regulatory action, which does not appear needed at this time. Accordingly, Safety Recommendation A-00-13 is classified "Closed-Acceptable Alternate Action."