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Accident description
Last updated: 19 October 2017
Status:Final
Date:Tuesday 24 December 2013
Time:20:14
Type:Silhouette image of generic A333 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Airbus A330-343X
Operator:Virgin Atlantic Airways
Registration: G-VNYC
C/n / msn: 1315
First flight: 2012-05-09 (1 year 8 months)
Engines: 2 Rolls-Royce Trent 772B-60
Crew:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 14
Passengers:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 18
Total:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 32
Airplane damage: Substantial
Airplane fate: Repaired
Location:Saint Lucia-Hewanorra Int'l Airport (TLPL), Vieux Port Quarter (   Saint Lucia)
Phase: Landing (LDG)
Nature:International Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Tobago-A.N.R Robinson International Airport (TAB/TTCP) (TAB/TTCP), Trinidad and Tobago
Destination airport:Saint Lucia-Hewanorra Airport (UVF/TLPL), Saint Lucia
Flightnumber:VS98
Narrative:
An Airbus A330-343 aircraft registered G-VNYC was scheduled to operate flight VS98 from Tobago-Robinson International Airport to St Lucia-Hewanorra International Airport and then on to London Gatwick Airport.
The flight to St Lucia was delayed in Tobago due to thunderstorm activity, heavy rainfall, lightning and wind gusts of between thirty and forty knots that resulted in intermittent closures of the St Lucia-Hewanorra Airport.
After becoming airborne, Piarco Air Traffic Control cleared Flight VS98 direct to the BNE VOR at FL210. The co-pilot was the pilot flying at this time. The aircraft first contacted Hewanorra Tower at 19:08 and reported 128 miles southwest of the airport. The tower controller advised the captain of the weather, as follows: Wind variable between 180 and 300 degrees at 09 Knots, 5000 meters visibility with thunder storm activity at the field...clouds few at 600 feet, scattered at 1100 feet, Thunderstorms in all quadrants, temperature 25, dew point 24, QNH 1012.
At 19:24, the captain asked the tower controller to confirm that the airport was still open, the controller replied that the airport was closed due to weather and proceeded to give the weather conditions. This weather report included winds of between 20 and 40 Knots varying between 210 and 360 degrees. The visibility at the airport had decreased to 2000 meters and lightning was reported. The captain advised that he was now 18 miles South West of the airport and would like to enter the hold at position TUBED.
At 19:26, the controller advised that the Metrological Office reported that their will be no expected change in the weather for the next hour.
At 19:48, the captain requested from the controller if there was any change in the weather. He was advised that there was not and was further asked to confirm that he was holding at position TUBED. The captain advised that they were not at TUBED but were 10 miles South West of TUBED due to weather.
At 19:55, the controller advised that there was some improvement in the visibility at the airport and asked the crew of Flight VS98 to standby for the official Met report. The 20:00 weather was given at 20:03 as follows: (Wind 020 degrees at 25 knots, visibility 3000 meters with thundershowers, clouds few at 600 feet, broken at 1200 feet CB’s in all quadrants, broken at 1400 feet, temperature 24, dew point 22 and QNH 1013).
After some discussion regarding the visibility required for landing, at 20:05, the tower controller confirmed that the field was now open and the aircraft was cleared for the RNAV approach to runway 10 at Hewanorra.
The captain was the pilot flying during the approach and landing.
At 20:04:55, St Lucia approach advised the crew to contact Martinique approach to coordinate the approach clearance as they had no contact with them. This was done and Martinique cleared the aircraft to 3000 feet and advised them to contact Hewanorra. Following confirmation of the clearance from Hewanorra approach, there was some discussion between the crew about the weather and the go around procedure to be used in the event of a missed approach. The fact that the wind was outside the cross wind limits of the aircraft was also mentioned.
At 20:08, Flight VS98 reported at position TUBED commencing the approach. Shortly before passing passion MATES, the co-pilot confirmed that the aircraft was fully configured for landing. He reported at the final fix at 1800 feet and confirms an altitude check.
At 20:12:59, Flight VS98 reported position MATES. The controller confirmed this and said that he does not have the aircraft in sight yet; however, at 20:13:40 he confirmed having the aircraft in sight and cleared it to land giving the wind as 010 degrees at 10 knots. Fifteen seconds later, the crew reported the field in sight and confirmed the landing clearance.
The aircraft landed at 20:15:10. The crew reported that a "juddering" was felt and the aircraft deceleration was more significant than expected. It was also reported that the aircraft veered towards the left but was able to be brought under control. Shortly after this, the crew reported a number of ECAM cautions were displayed; they included air left wing leak.
The aircraft taxied onto the ramp via taxiway C and parked on Stand 4. Both the taxiway and the stand were free from standing water at this time. The captain was then summoned by the ground engineer to come outside and look at the aircraft as the Pack Bay area had been damaged. The crew reported seeing no obstacles during the landing. However, on inspection, it was observed that the Pack Bay area on the underside of the aircraft had been extensively damaged.

The investigation revealed that the original course of the river to the north of the runway had been diverted to allow for runway construction. The evidence indicates that as a result of the extreme weather and heavy rain that existed at the airport that night, the river burst its banks at the point where the original course of the river had been diverted 90 degrees to the west. This resulted in the touchdown area of the runway being flooded.
After the aircraft had been positioned on stand # 4, prior to the disembarkation of the passengers, the river began flooding the airport terminal, the ramp and runway area.

Probable Cause:

The Authority’s conclusion is that the aircraft landed in approximately one (1) to two (2) feet of water on the touchdown zone of Runway 10. This caused significant damage to the underside of the aircraft.

Classification:

Sources:
» ECCAA Accident Report


Follow-up / safety actions

ECCAA issued 7 Safety Recommendations

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Map
This map shows the airport of departure and the intended destination of the flight. The line between the airports does not display the exact flight path.
Distance from Tobago-A.N.R Robinson International Airport (TAB/TTCP) to Saint Lucia-Hewanorra Airport as the crow flies is 286 km (179 miles).

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