ᴡʜʏ ᴛʜɪs ʙᴏᴇɪɴɢ 𝟽𝟹𝟽 ᴡᴀs ᴜɴᴀʙʟᴇ ᴛᴏ ʟᴀɴᴅ – ᴊᴇᴛ ᴀɪʀᴡᴀʏs ғʟɪɢʜᴛ 𝟻𝟻𝟻
Having previously reviewed many aviation catastrophes that occurred throughout the world, Jet airways flight 555, although intially not classified as a serious accident, it was considered eventually due to the gravity of the occurrence.
On August 17, 2015, a Boeing 737–800 with the registration number VT-JFA was operating a scheduled routenly trip from Doha, Qatar to Cochin, India, with the majority of the passengers originating in India. There were 142 passengers on board and 8 crew members.
The 9W555 departed Doha International Airport at 19:37 UTC and made contact with Cochin ATC at 23:00 UTC, with visibility reported to be 3500 m hazy.
Since the weather conditions deteriorated over time, the crew of flight 555 initiated the first go-around at 23:58 UTC, as they were unable to see the runway owing to low clouds.
Soon after, Cochin ATC announced that visibility at Cochin had fallen to 2000 meters, as opposed to the 3500m first reported, and that with reduced visibility, a comparable Boeing 737 of Air India Express, which was ahead of 9W-555, also performed a go-around.
While the Jet Airways flight 555 crew reviewed other destinations and fuel requirements at the nearest airports, Bangalore, Trivandrum, and Coimbatore, the PIC continued with a second approach, unable to sight the runway, and conducted the second go-around. The (Pilot-In-Command)PIC chose Trivandrum as its final destination.
9W-555 initiated a third approach to ILS runway 27 at Cochin airport 33 minutes after the second go around, however, the crew was unable to sight the runway again, as visibility had dropped to 1500 m in mist, and low clouds at 400Ft. Because the weather in Cochin was deteriorating, the captain chose Trivandrum as an alternate destination at 0017 UTC, and soon after making contact with Trivandrum ATC, the visibility decreased to 1500 meters.
As the flight 555 was vectored to Runway 14 with visibility of 2000 meters, the crew was unable to sight the runway throughout both approach and landing, resulting in the loss of the first go-around at Trivandrum, but the fourth go-around up to this point.
Once the go-around was completed, the captain requested a right hand visual circuit for Runway 14, and turned base. Unlike the previous approaches made by the crew of Flight 555, this time they were fortunate to see the runway in sight, but since they were too high and it was too risky, they chose to initiate the 2nd go-around, which is the 5th go-around of Jet Airways flight 555.
All the while the crew attempted to land the Boeing 737, they were depleting the fuel on board, and with all the go-arounds and holding patterns, 9W-555 fuel had dropped to 1300 Kgs, down from 15,295kg when it was first assigned.
Following the second go-around, the Pilot-In-Command requested a circling approach for runway 14 at Trivandrum, but were not aligned with the runway and were late in sighting, resulting in the third go-around at Trivandrum, and the sixth overall.
As they climbed to 700 ft AGL, the captain of 9W-555 requested a direct 180deg left turn to self position with inboound runway 32, without any visual contact with the runway, and Ground Proximity warnings including the bank angle blaring, as the aircraft manoeuvered at low altitute and terrain, the crew, which is now the 7th approach, landed safely at Trivandrum International Airport.
The 142 passengers and 8 crew members on board were all unharmed, and there was no fire or damage to the aircraft. After refueling in Trivandrum, the crew flew the passengers back to Cochin.
Following the inquiry, the investigative board reached the following conclusions/probable causes:
The captain chose the destination Trivandrum over Bangalore, despite the fact that Bangalore had better weather conditions and minimum-diversion-fuel was greater than the needed quantity. The Pilot-In-Command also ignored multiple GPWS warnings on the last (7th) approach, putting passengers and the aircraft’s life in jeopardy.
The Jet Airways operation handbook or policy made no mention of the number of approaches that must be completed before considering a diversion and redesignating an alternate destination
As with many such “air mishaps” suggestions are always given to prevent similar occurrences in the future. DGCA advised that Jet Airways create a policy on the number of approaches and missed approaches in severe weather. The DGCA also urged Jet Airways to incorporate low-fuel situations into pilot simulator training sessions