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4th of July 2000

A Boeing 737-300 was scheduled to operate a passenger flight from Budapest (Hungary) to Thessaloniki (Greece). However, an engine issue prevented the aircraft to operate the flight. Another aircraft, a Tupolev Tu-154B-2 was selected to carry out the flight. With a crew of 8 and 86 passengers, onboard the Tupolev took off from Budapest at 12.35 UTC.

Damaged flap fairing and flaps (source; Aviation-Safety.net ©Elliott)


After an uneventful flight as the aircraft was descending towards Thessaloniki ATC cleared the aircraft for a VOR/DME approach to Runway 34, followed by a visual circle to land on Runway 28. Runway 34 was not available as it was closed due to construction works. As the aircraft got closer to the airport a Boeing 757 that had landed previously had not yet cleared Runway 28. ATC, therefore, instructed the crew of the Tupolev to extend the downwind leg for Runway 28, to give the Boeing 757 time to clear the runway.

The crew of the Tupolev did adhere to this instruction from ATC, and turned towards Runway 28, flying an S-shaped flightpath to line up with the runway. During the approach the crew had failed to lower the landing gear, this was noticed by the ATC Controller in the tower, and he therefore instructed the flight to go around. The crew initiated a go-around but they were unable to arrest the high rate of descent in time to avoid touching the runway surface. At 13.57 UTC the lower fuselage touched the runway causing substantial damage to the aircraft structure and the inboard flaps. The crew managed to get the aircraft airborne again and entered a holding pattern to run some checklists and to give the airport authorities the opportunity to clear aircraft debris from the runway. After a second approach, with the landing gear down, the aircraft touched down safely at 14.13 UTC. There were no injuries to the occupants of the aircraft, the aircraft itself received substantial damage, so much so that it was written off, as 'Damaged Beyond Repair'.

Damaged lower fuselage (Source; Aviation-Safety.net © Phil Lambrou)


The accident was investigated by the Air Accident Investigation and Aviation Safety Board of Greece (AAIASB). In their report (available by clicking here, please note the report is in Greek) they identified the following probable causes to the accident;

  • Unstabilised approach

  • Crew focused on manoeuvring at low altitude

  • Failure to lower the gear in accordance with applicable procedures

As contributing factors the following observations were noted;

  • Aural warning for failure to deploy the gear did not activate

  • Deficiencies in Crew Resource Management

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