New Unstable Approaches Guidance Material released

Safety is the number one priority for IFATCA and the entire aviation industry, and we are most effective when we all work together to make it ever safer. With this goal in mind, I am very happy to announce the publication of Unstable Approaches: Risk Mitigation Policies, Procedures and Best Practices, second edition. It has been collaboratively written by IATA, CANSO, IFATCA and IFALPA, to address the problems surrounding unstable approaches, a major contributor to accidents and is available for download free of charge at this link.

As you know, a stabilized approach is one during which several key flight parameters are controlled to within a specified range of values before the aircraft reaches a predefined point in space relative to the landing threshold (stabilization altitude or height), and maintained within that range of values until touchdown. The parameters include attitude, flight path trajectory, airspeed, rate of descent, engine thrust and aircraft configuration. A stable approach is vitally important to the safe conclusion of a flight. The pilot needs to be in a safe position to land. If the aircraft does not meet the criteria for a stable approach, such as being at the wrong height, flying too fast or approaching at the wrong angle, the approach will most likely be an unstable one. Over the period of 2011-2015 period, 65% of the accidents occurred during the approach and landing phases leading to different types of accidents, some more and some less susceptible to unstable approaches. However, in general terms, about 14% of these accidents occurred in the presence of an unstable approach (generally related to the aircraft’s energy state) without a go around performed.

The industry as a whole must adopt an unequivocal position that the only acceptable approach is a stabilized one, and pilots in particular must take professional pride in achieving it on every occasion. Recognized industry practice is to recommend that a failure by the flight crew to conduct a stabilized approach should result in a go-around. This new publication emphasizes the importance of pilots, air traffic controllers and airport staff working together along with regulators, training organizations and international trade associations to agree on measures and procedures to reduce unstable approaches. It is recommended that all stakeholders should use this document as a reference against which to review operational policy, procedures and training.

I wish to acknowledge the great team effort of our partners from CANSO, IATA, and IFALPA in producing this second edition of this document.

Patrik Peters,

IFATCA’s President and CEO