CommutAir ERJ landed off-runway after misaligned approaches

Aviation

US investigators have disclosed that a CommutAir Embraer ERJ-145 had been aligned to the right of the runway during two approaches to Presque Isle airport, before an excursion on touchdown.

The aircraft, operating as United Express flight 4933 on 4 March, had aborted its initial approach to runway 1, as it arrived from Newark, before making a second approach attempt.

Presque Isle is located in north-east Maine. Its runway 1 has a length of 2,267m (7,439ft) and is aligned on a bearing of 346° to true north and 006° magnetic.

While both CommutAir and the US FAA originally indicated the aircraft had veered off the runway during landing, the National Transportation Safety Board has revealed that radar data shows the ERJ was “aligned right” of the runway during both approaches.

It adds that the aircraft landed “between” runway 1 and the parallel taxiway A, which runs alongside some 190m to the right.

Investigators have yet to confirm how far from the centreline the aircraft was positioned, and explain why it was misaligned.

Light to moderate snow was affecting the airport at the time of the daylight approach, with visibility down to 800-1,200m.

Presque Isle airport’s operator states that runway 1 has a “full” ILS as well as VOR/DME approach capabilities.

Two passengers and a crew member from among the 31 occupants of the jet sustained minor injuries but the ERJ was substantially damaged.