The crew of an Airbus A320 had to perform a challenging single-engine go-around earlier this month, with an unlocked thrust reverser.
We already looked at this incident shortly after it happened. But at the time, the circumstances around it were unclear. What was clear was that the crew had to fly very slow, at low altitude, as they tried to recover. The incident, involving TAP Air Portugal flight TP-754, happened on the 8th of April.
This flight had departed Lisbon (LPPT) in Portugal, heading for Copenhagen (EKCH) in Denmark. There were 102 passengers and 7 crew on board. As we saw previously, the A320 crew performed a go-around, either very low over the runway or when they already touched down. The Danish Accident Investigation Board (Havarikommissionen) did not clarify if the flight crew had selected the reversers during their landing roll.
A320 Makes A Single-Engine Go-Around
In any case, after going around, the pilots noticed that their aircraft wasn’t accelerating. Also, they quickly realized that their aircraft was veering to the left. The TAP Air Portugal flight crew had a difficult job maintaining control of their A320 during the go-around. As we already saw, their aircraft was just 300 feet above the ground, when it crossed the airport perimeter.
Also, the aircraft crossed the airport perimeter well away from the runway. This was because it had veered around 15 degrees to the left. During the go-around, the A320 crew got an ECAM indication that Engine No1’s thrust reverser was unlocked. This engine was at idle thrust. In the photos of the Danish Havarikommissionen, we can see that three out of four of the engine’s reverser doors were fully open.
So the crew had to go around on a single-engine, and with the additional drag of the open thrust reverser doors on the other engine. The flight crew continued flying at low speed, as their A320 slowly climbed out of the airport. They declared an emergency, levelling out at 3,000 feet. After completing their checklists, the crew asked for and got vectors for runway 22L.
A Safe Landing
The A320 crew made a safe landing on runway 22L, 20 minutes after the go-around. Initially, there were witness reports suggesting possible damage to the left engine, after contact with the ground. But Danish authorities found no indication of ground contact, anywhere at the airport. The aircraft also had no external damage suggesting such a contact.
The Danish investigators announced that they have downloaded and read the incident aircraft’s flight recorders. They have also interviewed the crew, and are continuing their investigation, along with other aviation safety agencies. Denmark’s Havarikommissionen is treating this as a serious incident.
The aircraft in this eventful go-around incident is an Airbus A320-214, with tail number CS-TNV. It has CFM56-5 engines. The aircraft has been with TAP Air Portugal for all of its twelve and a half years in service. Following the incident, it remained in Copenhagen until Monday (18th of April), when it repositioned to Lisbon. So far, it has yet to return to service.