ASN Aircraft accident Airbus A320-212 A4O-EK Bahrain International Airport (BAH)
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Status:Accident investigation report completed and information captured
Date:Wednesday 23 August 2000
Type:Silhouette image of generic A320 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Airbus A320-212
Operator:Gulf Air
Registration: A4O-EK
MSN: 481
First flight: 1994-05-16 (6 years 3 months)
Total airframe hrs:17370
Engines: 2 CFMI CFM56-5A3
Crew:Fatalities: 8 / Occupants: 8
Passengers:Fatalities: 135 / Occupants: 135
Total:Fatalities: 143 / Occupants: 143
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Aircraft fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:2 km (1.3 mls) N off Bahrain International Airport (BAH) (   Bahrain)
Phase: Approach (APR)
Nature:International Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Cairo International Airport (CAI/HECA), Egypt
Destination airport:Bahrain International Airport (BAH/OBBI), Bahrain
The aircraft was conducting a normal approach to runway 12 at Bahrain International Airport with auto-pilot/flight director disconnected upon visual contact with the runway. Approximately 1nm from touchdown, at about 600 feet amsl and at an airspeed of 185 mph the crew requested a left-hand orbit (360 degree turn) because they were too high and fast on the approach. During the tight (36degree bank angle) left hand turn the flaps were fully extended and the landing checklist completed. When the aircraft crossed the extended runway centerline the crew reported they wanted to abort the landing. A controller gave the crew clearance to climb to 2,500 feet at a 300-degree heading to prepare for another approach. The plane's speed began increasing to 185 knots as it began to climb to 1000 feet in a 5-degree nose-up attitude. During the go-around at approximately 1,000 feet, the aircraft entered a rapid descent, 15-degrees nose down. As the GPWS sounded, the captain ordered the flaps to be raised and moved the sidestick aft. The Airbus impacted the sea at a 6.5-degreee nose down angle, north of the airport. The plane's last recorded airspeed was about 280 knots.
Two very remarkable accidents happened June 1950 within a period of just 3 days. On June 12 an Air France DC-4 descended into the sea while on a night-time approach to Bahrain. Two days later, another Air France DC-4 descended into the sea off Bahrain, also on a night-time approach.

Probable Cause:

The investigation showed that no single factor was responsible for the accident to GF-072. The accident was the result of a fatal combination of many contributory factors, both at the individual and systemic levels. All of these factors must be addressed to prevent such an accident happening again.
(1) The individual factors particularly during the approach and final phases of the flight were:
(a) The captain did not adhere to a number of SOPs; such as: significantly higher than standard aircraft speeds during the descent and the first
approach; not stabilising the approach on the correct approach path; performing an orbit, a non-standard manoeuvre, close to the runway at low altitude; not performing the correct go-around procedure; etc.
(b) In spite of a number of deviations from the standard flight parameters and profile, the first officer (PNF) did not call them out, or draw the attention of the captain to them, as required by SOP’s.
(c) A perceptual study indicated that during the go-around after the orbit, it appears that the flight crew experienced spatial disorientation, which could have caused the captain to perceive (falsely) that the aircraft was ‘pitching up’. He responded by making a ‘nose-down’ input, and as a result, the aircraft descended and flew into the shallow sea.
(d) Neither the captain nor the first officer perceived, or effectively responded to, the threat of increasing proximity to the ground, in spite of repeated hard GPWS warnings.
(2) The systemic factors, identified at the time of the above accident, which could have led to the above individual factors, were:
(a) Organisational factors (Gulf Air):
(i) A lack of training in CRM contributing to the flight crew not performing as an effective team in operating the aircraft.
(ii) Inadequacy in the airline's A320 training programmes, such as: adherence to SOPs, CFIT, and GPWS responses.
(iii) The airline’s flight data analysis system was not functioning satisfactorily, and the flight safety department had a number of deficiencies.
(iv) Cases of non-compliance, and inadequate or slow responses in taking corrective actions to rectify them, on the part of the airline in some critical regulatory areas, were identified during three years preceding the accident.
(b) Safety oversight factors:
A review of about three years preceding the accident indicated that despite intensive efforts, the DGCAM as a regulatory authority could not make the operator comply with some critical regulatory requirements.

Accident investigation:

Investigating agency: MoT Bahrain
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 1 year and 11 months
Accident number: Final report
Download report: Final report

Non-adherence to procedures
Loss of situational awareness
Loss of control

» SKYbrary 
» Airbus
» Washington Post

Follow-up / safety actions

MoT Bahrain issued 12 Safety Recommendations

Show all...


photo of Airbus-A320-212-
photo of Airbus-A320-212-A4O-EK
accident date: 23-08-2000
type: Airbus A320-212
registration: A4O-EK
photo of Airbus-A320-212-A4O-EK
accident date: 23-08-2000
type: Airbus A320-212
registration: A4O-EK

This map shows the airport of departure and the intended destination of the flight. The line between the airports does not display the exact flight path.
Distance from Cairo International Airport to Bahrain International Airport as the crow flies is 1917 km (1198 miles).
Accident location: Exact; as reported in the official accident report.

This information is not presented as the Flight Safety Foundation or the Aviation Safety Network’s opinion as to the cause of the accident. It is preliminary and is based on the facts as they are known at this time.
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