The NTSB released a final report last week on the December 20, 2020 crash of a Hawker 800XP near Farmingdale, New York. It concluded that the flight crew’s delayed decision to initiate a go-around after an approach had become unstabilized resulted in a hard landing.
At about 8:35 p.m. Eastern Standard Time the aircraft faced substantial damage; the captain sustained minor injuries, and the first officer was seriously injured. The plane was a Part 91 business flight operated by Talon Air, LLC as a Title 14 CFR.
The crew was conducting an ILS approach in night instrument meteorological conditions when advised by the tower controller that the weather had deteriorated below minimums. The captain was the pilot monitoring, and the first officer was the pilot flying during the plane’s approach. Inside the final approach fix the plane was stable so both pilots opted to continue the approach. Both pilots had visual contact with the runway approach lighting system at 200 feet above ground level.
“As the first officer continued the approach, the captain told him the airplane was drifting right of the runway centerline,” the final report stated. “The first officer said that he looked outside, saw that the weather had deteriorated, and was no longer comfortable with the approach. The first officer said he pressed the takeoff and go-around switch, while at the same time, the captain called for a go-around. The captain said that he called for the go-around because the airplane was not aligned with the runway.”
Both pilots said the go-around was initiated when the airplane was about 50 to 100 feet above ground level. The final report states that “the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) recording revealed that the first officer flew an autopilot-coupled approach to 50 ft above ground level (per the approach procedure, a coupled approach was not authorized below 240 feet).”
The captain told the first officer three times to flare and then informed him the plane was drifting right. The final report states that there was a three-second delay before a reaction from the first officer, who then tried initiating the transfer of control to the captain.
Without taking control, the captain called for a go-around. The first officer added full power and retracted the flaps to 15 degrees but the plane impacted the ground about five seconds later.
Data collected from the engines’ digital electronic engine control units revealed no anomalies and no mechanical issue was reported. The probable cause according to the final report was, “the flight crew’s delayed decision to initiate a go-around after the approach had become unstabilized, which resulted in a hard landing.” The CVR recording revealed the approach likely became unstabilized after the autopilot was disconnected as the first officer lost visual contact with the runway environment. Calling for a go-around was delayed and after the approach had become unstabilized the airplane was too low to recover.
Photos from NTSB