Serious incident Airbus A321-231 G-MIDJ, 26 May 2003
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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 147097
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Type:Silhouette image of generic A321 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Airbus A321-231
Owner/operator:bmi British Midland
Registration: G-MIDJ
MSN: 1045
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 221
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Substantial
Category:Serious incident
Location:70nm SE of Vienna, over Northeastern Hungary -   Hungary
Phase: En route
Nature:Passenger - Non-Scheduled/charter/Air Taxi
Departure airport:Larnaca Airport (LCA)
Destination airport:Manchester International Airport (MAN)
Investigating agency: AAIB
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
The holiday charter flight landed at Larnaca (LCA) at 11:35 hrs after an uneventful flight from Manchester (MAN).
The aircraft was refuelled to full tanks and, after a one hour 'turn-round', departed Cyprus for Manchester with the First Officer as the Pilot Flying. The commander's duties, as the Pilot Not Flying (PNF), were the management of the navigation and RT communications. The Standard Instrument Departure (SID) and climb to cruising altitude routed the aircraft to the west of the cloud building up on the north side of the island. The intensity and extent of this cloud was monitored by the crew on the weather radar. The aircraft was initially cleared to 8,000 feet but before reaching that altitude, a further clearance to a cruising level of FL340 was issued and the climb continued. The cabin crew were cleared to commence the cabin service and the aircraft levelled at FL340. The pilots had been monitoring Cb activity, on the weather radar, to the east of their track and approximately two hours into the flight they noted some isolated Cb activity ahead of the aircraft to the right and left of their track. The Cb activity to the right of track was minor and isolated. Cb activity to the left of track was less intense. The radar was set to a scale of 160 nm and with no significant returns ahead and no thunderstorm activity forecast the radar was switched OFF. The aircraft had been in clear skies above towering Cu for most of the flight and, in accordance with normal procedures, the radar had only been turned on when required.
As the flight progressed the aircraft entered some high Cirrus cloud. The FO, anticipating the possibility of turbulence, switched on the 'seat belt' signs and made a short public address (PA) informing the passengers and cabin crew that this was a precautionary measure. Shortly after the announcement the aircraft entered what the crew described as an area of 'light innocuous turbulence'.
Approximately 20 seconds later however, the turbulence increased through moderate to become severe. The autopilot (AP), which was selected ON in the 'Navigation Mode' at a speed of Mach 0.78 (M0.78), disconnected and the aircraft climbed rapidly above its assigned level. Intense hail then began to impact the aircraft. Both flight crew noted the master warning light illuminate as the autopilot disconnected but neither pilot heard the associated audio warning due to the noise of the hail. The FO flew the aircraft manually, selected engine ignition ON, set the speed to M.076 for the turbulence and turned on the cockpit dome light. The commander changed the range selector on Navigation Display (ND) to 40 nm to check for conflicting traffic on the Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS), monitored the aircraft's speed on his Primary Flight Display (PFD), monitored the first officer's side stick inputs and cancelled the master caution light. Throughout, the PF attempted to regain FL340 and maintain track. The aircraft however, deviated 1,300 feet above to 300 feet below its assigned cruising level, rolling to angles of bank not exceeding 18 degrees. Indications on the Vertical Speed Indicator (VSI) confirmed that on at least one occasion the rates of climb or descent exceeded 5,900 feet per minute.
The commander of G-MIDJ transmitted to Budapest ATC informing them that they were unable to maintain FL340 due to severe turbulence. He was unable to hear the reply because of the hail. This also prevented the pilots from hearing each other for, although they were wearing headsets, it is normal practice for the intercom to be selected OFF and cross-cockpit conversation to be conducted without the use of intercom.
After the aircraft cleared the area of turbulence and hail associated with the storm cell the pilots noticed that the left front (commander's) windscreen and the right (first officer's) Direct Vision (DV) window had sustained severe hail damage. The commander felt his windscreen and noted that, although there were visible signs of damage to the outer layers and an increase in airflow noise, the insi


Ananova, BBC

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: AAIB
Status: Investigation completed
Download report: Final report

Revision history:

26-Jul-2012 07:20 harro Added

Corrections or additions? ... Edit this accident description

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