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Singapore Airlines A350 Almost Lands at Wrong Airport... Myth Debunked

December 6, 2017

File photo of a Singapore Airlines A350-900 (9V-SMD) at Manchester. Image courtesy of Transport Pixels, and shared under the CC BY 2.0 license 

 

On December 4, a Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900 was operating flight SQ422, from Singapore to Mumbai, when it was forced to execute a go-around. The aircraft, registered 9V-SMH, eventually landed safely at Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport at 10:44 AM local time. 

 

Go-arounds are fairly common for commercial aircraft, and are commonly known as "missed approaches." These are often executed when an aircraft is trying to land in unsafe conditions, resulting in a procedure that involves climbing to a set altitude and making a "U-turn" to line up with the runway again. 

 

News outlets originally reported that SQ422 had been attempting to land at Juhu Airport's runway 08, instead of Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport's runway 09. They also reported that the Singapore Airlines pilots had accidentally attempted to approach the wrong airport. However, this is not true at all. 

 

Looking at the aircraft's radar track, it was initially approaching Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport from the west, when it was forced to abandon its approach due to unsafe weather conditions (i.e. low visibility), according to a statement from Singapore Airlines. As Juhu airport is located directly to the west of Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, it is plausible that journalists could have mistaken the missed approach for an attempted landing at Juhu. The aircraft circled around the area before performing a successful attempted landing attempt at 10:44 local time. 

An ADS-B radar feed from the aircraft as it approached Mumbai. Data courtesy of FlightRadar24.  

 

Here's the METAR Weather data for Mumbai, as provided by The Aviation Herald. It shows that there were poor visibility conditions during the time the Singapore A350 was landing. According to this report, the weather seemed to have been smoky, with low-level clouds at 2000 feet. These conditions don't seem too bad at first glance, but it's entirely possible that something could have moved into the area within a short amount of time as the A350 was preparing to land. 

 

VABB 040600Z 10007KT 2500 FU FEW020 BKN100 31/17 Q1010 NOSIG=
VABB 040530Z 09008KT 2500 FU FEW020 BKN100 30/17 Q1010 NOSIG=
VABB 040500Z 12005KT 2500 FU FEW020 BKN100 30/17 Q1011 NOSIG=
VABB 040430Z 10007KT 2500 FU FEW020 BKN100 30/18 Q1011 NOSIG=

VABB 040400Z 08006KT 2200 FU FEW020 BKN100 29/17 Q1011 NOSIG=
VABB 040330Z 08007KT 2200 FU FEW020 BKN100 28/17 Q1011 TEMPO 1500 FU=
VABB 040300Z 09006KT 2200 FU BKN100 28/17 Q1011 NOSIG=
VABB 040230Z 09005KT 2500 FU SCT100 27/17 Q1010 NOSIG=
VABB 040200Z 08006KT 2500 FU SCT100 27/17 Q1009 NOSIG=

 

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