TSB releases report on WestJet's missed approach close to water in St. Maarten
Published Monday, June 4, 2018 12:32PM EDT
Unexpected weather conditions and reduced visibility contributed to a risk of collision with terrain for a WestJet plane as it tried to land in St. Maarten last year, a Transportation Safety Board of Canada investigation has found.
The plane, a Boeing 737-800, ended up landing without incident about 45 minutes later and no one on board was hurt. Video of the missed approach was shared widely online at the time, prompting WestJet to issue a statement denying that it was a “potential disaster,” as some headlines stated.
The TSB report, released Monday, says that WestJet flight 2652 from Toronto’s Pearson International Airport entered a “significant rain shower” as it approached Princess Juliana International Airport in St. Maarten on March 7, 2017.
The TSB investigation determined that the runway lights and the visual guidance system at the airport were set at low intensity and had obscured the view of the airport environment. The reduced visibility led to inadequate monitoring of the plane’s altitude and the crew couldn’t properly identify the runway, the TSB report says.
The crew aborted the landing 0.30 nautical miles from the runway threshold at an altitude of 40 feet above water, according to the report.
“The crew did not notice that the aircraft had descended below the normal angle of descent to the runway threshold until the enhanced ground proximity warning system issued an alert,” the TSB says.
Once visibility improved, the flight crew conducted a second approach and landed safely.
The TSB says that after that missed approach, WestJet developed a “corrective action plan,” which includes “information for pilots regarding possible challenges and threats on approaching and landing at Princess Juliana International Airport.”
Report released by TSB Canada indicates ‘unexpected weather conditions on final approach, reduced runway conspicuity, and inadequate flight path monitoring led to a risk of collision with terrain’ for Westjet #WS2652 in Sint Maarten on Mar 7, 2017.— Tom Podolec (@TomPodolec) June 4, 2018