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Aviation History Month Day 4 - 4th of November 1993

It was on this day in aviation history that a 5 month old Boeing 747-400 was written off after a landing incident. China Airlines Flight 605, B-165 (msn: 24313), had departed from Taipei and landed at Hong Kong Kai Tak Airport where it went off the runway, ending up in the water of Victoria Harbor.

B-165 in the water shortly after the evacuation was completed

The aircraft issued several Windshear and Glideslope warnings during the last mile of flight before touchdown on runway 13. At the time a tropical storm (Ira) was battering the Hong Kong area. The storm resulted in a steady crosswind of 20 knots (37 kph - 23 mph) with gusts of 38 knots (70 kph - 44 mph) from a heading of 070 degrees. (Generating a crosswind component of approximately 25 knots.) The captain, who was Pilot Flying, disconnected the AutoPilot for a manual land. Also, the Autothrottle was disconnected during this stage of the approach, as the captain was unhappy with its performance.

The aircraft touched down 2100 feet (640 meters past the displaced runway threshold at a speed of 150 knots (280 kph - 170 mph). After touchdown, the Co-pilot assisted the Captain with the roll control, as tasked by the Captain during the Approach Briefing, but he overcorrected. Thus increasing the workload for the Captain who had to correct the co-pilot his input. At the same time, the Captain mistakenly advanced the throttles instead of selecting reverse thrust. This resulted in the Auto Brake (which was set at level two) disconnecting and Close up of the nose section of the aircraft the spoilers retracting.

When the Co-pilot noticed the Autobrake being deselected and the reverser not deployed he alerted the captain who initiated manual braking and selected reverse thrust.

When it became apparent they would not stop before the end of the runway the Captain turned the aircraft off the runway to avoid it hitting the approach lights for Runway 31. This caused the aircraft to slide off the runway into the water of Victoria Harbour. As soon as the aircraft came to a stop in the shallow water the crew instructed the passengers to put on their lifejackets and initiated an emergency evacuation. 23 minor injuries were reported after the evacuation. With the aircraft an obvious total loss, soon after the accident the tail was removed using dynamite, as it was interfering with the ILS for runway 31.

The aircraft in the water after the tail was blasted off with dynamite

The investigation into the accident that it was caused by;

  1. The crew's failure to initiate a go-around when the approach became unstabilized

  2. Crew selecting forward thrust instead of reverse thrust

  3. Co-pilot tasked with roll control by the captain, diminishing his ability to monitor the landing

  4. Co-pilot lacking experience in crosswind handling of the aircraft.

  5. China Airlines was criticized for not having a crosswind landing procedure in their manuals

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