Russia’s Interstate Aviation Committee has today released the final report into the fatal crash of flydubai flight FZ981 on 19th March 2016 in Rostov-on-Don. The accident killed all 62 people on board the Boeing 737, including the two pilots, five members of cabin crew and 55 passengers who hailed from nine different countries.
Investigators today laid much of the blame on the two pilots, especially the Captain but also said training and tiredness may have been factors in the crash.
During the first final descent into Rostov-on-Don at around 10.45pm on the 18th March, the two pilots detected significant wind shear and decided to abort the landing and performed a so-called go-around. They were then placed into a holding pattern for two hours before attempting to land again.
But just 253 metres (830 foot) from touchdown, the pilots decided to initiate another go-around as the weather suddenly deteriorated. The plane initially started to climb but then started a steep descent before colliding nose-first into the threshold of runway 22 at Rostov-on-Don. The plane was split apart as it exploded on impact.
Accident investigators today concluded that “incorrect aircraft configuration and crew piloting”, as well as the Captain’s loss of “situational awareness” were the main factors in the cause of the crash. Contributing factors, not surprisingly, included turbulence and gusty winds.
“The lack of psychological readiness (not go-around minded) of the PIC (Captain) to perform the second go-around as he had the dominant mindset on the landing performance exactly at the destination aerodrome (Rostov-on-Don International Airport), having formed out of the ’emotional distress’ after the first unsuccessful approach… resulted in the loss of control of the aircraft,” the English translation of the Russian report continues.
The report also said:
- The Captain lost leadership which caused confusion
- The two pilots carried out “uncoordinated actions” as they performed two different procedures for the go-around
- The Captain had “insufficient knowledge and skills on the stabilizer manual trim operation”
- He was also said to be suffering from “psychological incapacitation”
- And that he was concerned with making sure the plane landed at Rostov-on-Don as planned because the airline had made this “a priority”
Investigators also concluded that the two pilots were possibly suffering from operational tiredness, explaining that the accident occurred at the worst possible time in terms of the pair’s circadian rhythms.
“flydubai acknowledges the conclusions and recommendations drawn by the IAC. We have taken our obligations seriously and have implemented additional actions above and beyond those identified in the Final Report,” the airline said in a statement released this afternoon.
Following the accident, flydubai faced criticism after whistleblowers claimed pilots at the airline were overworked and did not get enough rest. The final report, however, says the two pilots had achieved enough rest in compliance with Flight Time Limitations. The Captain had achieved 15-hours rest at home, while the First Officer had been afforded 20-hours rest before the flight.
“At the time of the accident, flydubai was fully compliant with all regulatory requirements. Following a thorough review of the Interim Report, the Draft Final Report and flydubai’s own internal investigation, the airline has, in conjunction with our regulator, the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) taken a number of precautionary measures prior to the publication of the Final Report,” a statement from the airline continued.
And addressing criticism that the airline had been slow to compensate the victim’s families, the airline said its “aim has always been to fairly compensate those who have been impacted by the loss of loved ones following the accident involving FZ981.”
“We have now settled the majority of claims and it remains our priority to complete this process. We recognise this is a poignant moment for the families and our longterm care team remains available for as long as they need.”
Along with a number of other recommendations, aircraft manufacturer Boeing has been asked to “elaborate” its standard operating procedures to specify the type of go-around procedure to perform for different conditions.