747 missed-approach incident

From:         rdd@cactus.org (Robert Dorsett)
Date:         17 Mar 93 10:18:31 PST
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By Mike Gaines.  From FLIGHT INTERNATIONAL, February 24, 1992

"A Continental Airlines Boeing 747-200B narrowly missed one of the
world's busiest international terminals and an associated crew
building while its crew attempted an automatic landing at London
Gatwick early in February.

"The 747's starboard wingtip is estimated by witnesses to have missed
the five-storey Concorde House by about 100ft.  Concorde House is a
crew-reporting and operations building alongside the South Terminal.

"The UK Air Accident Investigation Board (AAIB) has started a formal
investigation. The AAIB has also taken the unusual step of
advertising for public assistance in the investigation.

"The incident occurred at 10:39 on 7 February.  Weather conditions,
recorded minutes earlier, were 800m visibility in light drizzle, with
four octas of cloud at 400' and the main cloud cover at 1800ft.  The
aircraft, operating on flight CO4 from Houston, Texas, with 223
people on board, was set up for an autopilot-coupled
instrument-landing- system (ILS) approach from the east to Gatwick's
Runway 26L.  At 1000', the autopilot had still not coupled with the
ILS correctly and the crew executed a missed approach, noting that
the aircraft was right of the extended centreline when they could see
the ground.

"On the second approach, the auto-ILS option was again selected. 
Again, the aircraft was well to the right of the centerline and
crossed the airfield perimeter to the north of the runway, overflying
buildings at 230' above ground lvel.  The aircraft landed safely from
a third ILS, flown manually.

"Continental confirmed the incident, saying: "The company is holding
an internal routine inquiry and will participate fully with any
official investigation in the UK."

"In May 1991, a British Airways pilot, Capt. Gen Stewart, was
convicted of negligently endangering his aircraft and the people on
board after a similar incident at Heathrow in November 1989. 
Stewart's 747-100 descended to 75', clearing a hotel by about 12'.

"This incident also followed difficulty in getting the autopilot to
lock onto the ILS.

"The AAIB did not investigate the Heathrow incident, being engaged in
the Lockerbie 747 sabotage and Kegworth Boeing 737 accident
investigations.  Stewart, who had resigned from BA, lost his
captain's qualification on type and was fined #2000.

"On 30 November, 1992, Stewart committed suicide."

In the same issue, an advert:


"Notice is hereby given, pursuant to Regulation 10(2) of the Civil
Aviation (Investigation of Air Accidents) Regulations, 1989, that a
Formal Investigation under the said Regulations is taking place into
the circumstances and causes of the incident to Boeing 747, N33021
which occurred at the South Terminal, London Gatwick Airport, on 7
February 1993.

"If anyone has information which they believe may relate to the
circumstances or causes of the incident they should write to the
Chief Inspector of Air Accidents, Air Accidents Investigation Branch,
Department of Transport, DRA, Farnborough, Hampshire GU14 6TD as soon
as possible and should quote the reference EW/C93/2/1.  

"Dated this day of February 1993."


Air Accident Investigation Branch
Department of Transport.