The Air Accidents Investigation Board (AAIB) has released details of its investigation of an incident involving a TUI Airways flight which lost airspeed and altitude when the crew initiated a go-around following an approach into Manchester Airport during a thunderstorm on 12 June 2023.
The aircraft conducting the flight was a Boeing 737-800, registered G-FDZX.
The aircraft was flying back to Manchester Airport from Zakynthos in Greece. Thunderstorms had been forecast across most of the UK and the crew had taken extra fuel to account for possible extended routings or delays.
As the Boeing 737 was making an approach to Runway 05R at Manchester Airport a thunderstorm was approaching the airport. At decision height, visual reference with the runway was lost and the flight crew initiated a manually flown, manual thrust go-around.
During the initial actions of the go-around the aircraft experienced a sudden loss of headwind which caused a loss of airspeed.
The commander reacted to the loss of airspeed by reducing the pitch attitude which resulted in a slight descent.
The reduction in pitch attitude with less than full go-around thrust caused the aircraft to descend, triggering the EGPWS ‘Don’t Sink’ Caution. The commander reacted appropriately to the caution and the aircraft climbed away without further incident.
The slight descent and EGPWS caution during the go-around were caused by the commander reducing the pitch attitude in response to a loss of airspeed.
The loss of airspeed was due to a change in wind direction caused by the approaching thunderstorm with insufficient thrust applied.
The go-around procedure requires the flight crew to verify sufficient thrust is set to achieve the climb performance during a go-around.
The aircraft manufacturer considers a windshear escape manoeuvre to be an appropriate response in these circumstances.
The operator TUI Airways is taking action to raise awareness of the threat of thunderstorms in the UK and promote appropriate briefing to mitigate the threat, and is reviewing its guidance for manual thrust go-arounds.
The full AAIB Report can be accessed here.
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