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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 229909
Last updated: 10 April 2021
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Time:18:25 LT
Type:Silhouette image of generic A321 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Airbus A321-231
Registration: D-AISV
C/n / msn: 4050
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 175
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: None
Category:Serious incident
Location:ca 37 km NE of Hamburg Airport -   Germany
Phase: En route
Nature:Passenger - Scheduled
Departure airport:Frankfurt International Airport (FRA/EDDF)
Destination airport:Hamburg-Helmut Schmidt Airport (HAM/EDDH)
Investigating agency: BFU Germany
Lufthansa flight LH24, an Airbus A321 (D-AISV) was on an IFR flight from Frankfurt to Hamburg, Germany. On board were the five-man crew and 170 passengers. The flight was guided by Bremen Radar with radar vectors to the southern approach of runway 23. The flight was then given clearance by the responsible controller to turn left to 280° and descend to 3000 ft AMSL to reach the Instrument Landing System (ILS) of runway 23.
The crew had preselected 3000 ft AMSL as the target altitude and the autopilot was activated. The Airbus was in a left turn with a bank angle of approx. 25° (course 305°) in descent (sink rate 910 ft/min) when it came close to a Rolladen Schneider LS-4 glider in the area.
The Airbus overtook the glider and flew under it at a horizontal distance of approx. 56 m and a vertical distance of approx. 46 ft (14 m). The glider was on a VFR flight together with a second glider. Both planes had started from the glider airfield Lübeck-Blankensee. The glider pilot stated that she was at approx. 3600 ft AMSL, flying in northwestern direction over the southern part of the village Reinfeld, when unexpectedly an Airbus A321 appeared on approximately the same course just below her glider and overtook it on the right side. She had not seen the Airbus before and had therefore not been able to avoid it. She estimated the distance at 60-80 m horizontally and 20-30 m vertically. The second glider was about 1.5 NM northwest of the event location at the time of the approach. The Airbus continued its approach to runway 23 at Hamburg Airport and the glider later landed in Lübeck-Blankensee.

According to the applicable rules of for Class E airspace, the Airbus should have avoided the glider. It was descending at 225 kt (IAS) towards the ILS for runway 23 at Hamburg-Fuhlsbüttel Airport in a 25°left-hand bank. The aircraft nose was pitched up at approx. 3.6°.
During the approach a crew is increasingly busy with additional tasks such as processing checklists, configuring the aircraft and preparing for landing. Continuous airspace observation is almost impossible during this phase. In addition, the view from the cockpit of a commercial aircraft is severely restricted due to the large number of instruments and the relatively small windows.
From the crew's point of view the LS-4 was in the 11 o'clock position until shortly before passing, slightly below. Due to the positive angle of attack of the fuselage it is very likely that the LS-4 was covered by the instrument panel. At the time of the event the sun was in the west, relatively flat above the horizon. A limited visibility due to glare can also not be excluded in the curve to the final approach course.
Due to the small visible area of the fuselage, combined with the fact that the LS-4 was in straight flight and the wings were therefore probably not visible, it was impossible to detect and execute an evasive maneuver in time.
Due to the lack of TCAS indications or warnings, the crew had to rely solely on the principle of "see and avoid" and could not recognize the danger of collision in time.

The serious incident, the approach between a commercial aircraft and a glider in Class E airspace, was due to the following causes:
- The Airbus was given clearance to descend to an altitude below the protected Class C airspace of Hamburg-Fuhlsbüttel Airport.
- The approach speed and flight path made it impossible for the Airbus cockpit crew to recognize the glider in time.
- For the glider pilot, the approach took place from behind, from an area that could not be seen.
- The application of the "See and Avoid" principle was not possible for the cockpit crew of the Airbus or for the glider pilot.
- All available warning systems (TCAS/STCA/RADAR) were ineffective because they did not work without a transponder in the glider.
- The widely used FLARM collision warning device for gliders is so far unsuitable for commercial aircraft and does not warn against them.

Clarification about airspace classification and rules of the air:

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: BFU Germany
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 1 year and 3 months
Download report: Final report


Revision history:

12-Oct-2019 11:35 harro Added
12-Oct-2019 14:02 harro Updated [Photo]
12-Oct-2019 14:03 harro Updated [Source]
13-Oct-2019 14:01 Anon. Updated [Source, Narrative]
24-Oct-2020 10:38 harro Updated [Destination airport, Source, Narrative, Accident report]
24-Oct-2020 18:55 gretna Updated [Source, Narrative, Accident report]
24-Oct-2020 18:58 harro Updated [Source, Narrative]

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