On 23 January 2005 the cargo aircraft Boeing 747-212B took off from Dubai Airport at 2234 UTC for a flight to Düsseldorf. The Pilot in Command (PIC), the co-pilot and a flight engineer were aboard. After more than six hours of flight time the aircraft was the first airplane approaching Düsseldorf Airport in the morning of 24 January 2005.
At 0545:55 hrs the controller radioed the crew: “… I just talked to the tower and ah for the time being braking action on all parts of the runway is supposed to be good. They are measuring again right now because it started to snow again and I’ll keep you advised.” Approximately one minute later the controller issued the descent clearance to FL80. The crew discussed to select the wheel brakes to autobrake medium and to switch anti-ice on once the minimums were reached due to the snowfall.
At 0547:18 hrs, after he had conducted a new landing data check for auto brakes minimum with the OPS computer, the flight engineer said: “Eight thousand four hundred fifty six feet to land.” The PIC answered: “I will put ah medium on this … for the snow.”
At 0559:26 hrs the tower controller said: “… the braking action was measured to be medium at all parts. And ah the visibility dropped right now due to the heavy snow showers at the field ah. The RVR value at the touch-down zone is presently nine hundred meters, at the mid-point one thousand one hundred meters and ah stop end one thousand one hundred meters.”
At that time the aircraft was in about 1,400 ft AMSL and approximately 3.5 NM from the threshold.
At 0559:47 hrs the tower controller said: “And, ah … you are cleared to land two tree left. The wind is currently tree tree zero degrees one one knots.” At the time of the landing clearance the airplane was about 2.5 NM away in approximately 1,000 ft AMSL.
The meteorological data show a high dynamic in the weather changes and a worsening of the situation during the approach and landing.
At 0600:49 hrs the co-pilot said: “Touch down.” Two seconds later the CVR recorded increasing engine noise.
At 0601:13 hrs the flight engineer said: “Ninety knots“, two seconds later the co-pilot added: “Eighty knots” and a short time later “… manual braking.” At 0601:22 hrs the PIC said: “Still fifty” and one of the crew members said “We are going off.” In the ensuing 15 seconds or so the CVR recorded expletives of the crew and at 0601:52 hrs the PIC exclaimed: “We got fires” and requested nine seconds later to complete the fire checklist.
The air accident is due to the fact that the braking action values reported to the crew did not correspond with the runway conditions which had changed because of the heavy snowfall since the last measurement.
The following factors contributed to the air accident:
- The high dynamics of the weather changes
- The lack of a measurement method providing reliable braking coefficient values under all weather conditions.