On Monday 25 March 2019 an incident has occurred at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. An aircraft aborted the final approach to the Buitenveldertbaan (runway 27) and received heading instructions for a second approach, while another aircraft was approaching the same runway. LVNL has reported this occurrence to the Dutch Safety Board and is conducting its own investigation.
LVNL’s primary safety task is to maintain the separation of aircraft from one another, and also from vehicles and other obstacles when on the ground. Air traffic controllers internally report any incidents falling within our area of responsibility, with the aim of learning lessons from them and so reducing the chance that similar occurrences will take place again in the future. All reported incidents are investigated by LVNL, as part of our ongoing commitment to improving safety.
Description of occurrence
Boeing does a go-around
A Boeing 777 aircraft was approaching from the east for a landing on the Buitenveldertbaan runway (runway 27). There was a strong northwesterly wind. The cockpit was warned to expect ‘wind shear’ (a strong downward air current that can push the aircraft downwards) Subsequently, the pilots decided to do a go-around well before landing and reported this to the tower controller. The tower controller answered in confirmation and ordered them to climb to 3,000 feet (approximately 1,000 meters). At an altitude of 3,000 feet, the Boeing turned right to line up for the runway again. The tower controller transferred communication with the aircraft to the radar controller.
Embraer approaches the Buitenveldertbaan runway
After the go-around by the Boeing, an Embraer E75L aircraft was the next to land at the Buitenveldertbaan runway. The aircraft flew on a straight approach to the runway and descended to 2,000 feet (approximately 600 meters). The radar controller was planning to have the Boeing line up behind the Embraer for the landing on the Buitenveldertbaan runway. The Boeing was flying eastward with a strong tailwind, and therefore came closer to the Embraer than intended. The air traffic controller instructed the Boeing to turn to the left, thus restoring the separation with the Embraer.
Just after the Boeing took the turn to the right to make a second approach, with the Embraer on a straight approach to the runway, there was less distance between the planes than required by the criteria. The Boeing was flying at 2,800 feet (approximately 850 meters) in an eastern direction, while the Embraer was flying at 3,100 feet (approximately 950 meters). During this occurrence, the minimum distance between the two aircraft was 1.9 nautical miles horizontally (approximately 3 kilometers) and 300 feet vertically (approximately 100 meters). Within the approach area of Schiphol, radar controllers use separation criteria of 3 nautical miles - approximately 5.5 kilometers - horizontally, or 1,000 feet - approximately 300 meters - vertically.
Conclusions and follow-up action based on this investigation
The Boeing drifted off the intended heading due to strong winds, resulting in the occurrence of the loss of separation. The intervention of the air traffic controller was effective; the distance between the aircraft was restored.
Classification: significant occurrence