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WestJet Denies Close Call Caught on Camera at St. Maarten

Westjet 2652 (CYYZ-TNCM) descended through MDA, was pictured about 50 feet off the ocean surface at Princess Juliana. They executed a go-around and landed successfully later. WestJet denies anything happened. Pictures show a very low aircraft. ( More...

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I'm no expert, but to me it looks like a damned fine carrier landing approach.

The pilot obviously got a
"Wave Off" when the LSO saw their tail hook was not deployed.

He very likely would have caught the first cable otherwise.

Happens all the time, the system worked as designed.
bashdan 6
Westjet 2652...."call the ball".
David Sims 7
Even better video
Jose Suro 2
The problem with that video is that it does not show what happened before TOGA mode. Why is that?
Tony Perez 3
The video shows that the plane came in too low so the pilots executed a missed approach and landed safely the second time around. Nothing to be ashamed of, no need to deny anything.
Mike Mohle 6
It even looks like the aircraft wake is visible behind the airplane at the surface!
n111ma 5
Never mind the aircraft's altitude and the rules of the sky...
Didn't the crew see that bouy?
So much for "RED RIGHT RETURN"
Highflyer1950 2
now that's funny.
joel wiley 2
If you need channel markers on the approach, you'd better have floats attached.
Jim Heslop 4
Hmm. Possibly a new pilot hired from Harbour Air that thought he was still flying a float plane?😂
Nice go-around decision!
Gustavo Rios 3
Well, observing the plane and according to the details offered by eyewitnesses, according to my experience of flight and to know that airport I think that airplane was a little bit LOW to make the final approach
Jose Suro 2
I know where that yellow ship marker is and Google Earth tells me that aircraft was about 900 ft from the rwy threshold (+/- 50 feet). In the shot it looks like the aircraft is already in TOGA mode. Based on the wake behind it also seems that the descent had been stopped a while back - it was no longer losing altitude. The YouTube video from the rwy seem to confirm all of that.

I've seen a lot of landing videos from Sint Marteen and it is not unusual for aircraft to "stair step" the short final. Low? Most definitely. Bad weather? check. Really close call and "terrifying"? That's pushing it a bit.
Jim Gardner 2
LSO called 3-wire trap touch and go. I spent 3 years on the flight deck of the USS Ranger in arresting gear! LoL
Did none see the truck that pulled up in front of the runway on the perimeter road just before his go around? Good judgement in my opinion.
Looking at that video, seems like they caught some windshear...
Brien Godfrey 1
Totally agree way to low. Was at SXM almost exactly a year ago and spent the whole day at Maho Beach. Good thing that it ended well in the end and safely.
No harm no foul!
Ant Miraa 1
I find it funny that comments on the article say that the picture was photoshopped. The comparison shots with an a330 that landed later shows the a330 higher than the 737 but not visible wake on the water. They are saying the wake on the 737 was fake. There is a video that shows the incident and it also shows the wake generated too... Also look at the buoy in both shots and tell me who was closer to the water? The pilots went around because they were too low, weather was a big factor
C Anderson 1
I don't care where you are or what you're flying, when on final you always want to maintain glide slope. If you can't, choose life and go around.
The video shot in the rain clearly shows the truck approaching the clearway area.
patrick baker 1
I think that maybe the westjet pilot busted minimums on the approach, else why was he so low so far from the end of the runway just after breaking out of clouds and overcast?
Yeah, he did a missed approach because he missed the approach. He did the proper recovery and properly landed the place 45 minutes later. good job, good performance.
Ken McIntyre 1
Perhaps the crew was dealing with some wind shear.
bbabis 1
I don't see a big deal hear. The whole fun and the reason for all the pictures and videos from St Maarten is how low the planes come in on normal approaches. For whatever reason, weather, windshear, or both he got too low on the first approach and did the correct thing with the missed.
patrick baker 0
just a bit low, as evidenced by the ruffled surface water being agitated by the jet exhaust, but it's okay: the captain has a seaplane endorsement. That makes it okay...
Jim DeTour 0
Missed approach procedure is probably to initial approach fix at the IFR routing altitude explaining why 45 minutes. Then figure in running an NDB approach leaving the IAF they are going outbound from field to do a dog leg back around 180 to field descending. Or they had a VOR or GPS approach running them some distances out there to accomplish the approach. None the less minimums is the decision altitude and not the actual minimum the plane will be at since it takes stopping of descent rate to get back up if its a miss. What ever the case they did it and cruised on. Give a good view of why non precision approach's are called what they are.
Weather. An A330 that arrived after their missed approach was put into hold and didn't have the fuel so attempted the approach. Visibility was 1-2 miles at the time.
spatr 1
They were probably on the GPS approach, the Flightaware track shows them holding for a bit before the second approach.
They landed 45 minutes later? Seems like an awful lot of flying to do on a go-around.
Maybe they were a bit heavier than usual especially with some precipitation, and just got a bit too slow and low and lost visibility for a moment. Sometimes a lot of small variables combined can add up to a big thing.
Still, any other thoughts on why the 45 minutes? Traffic? Composure?
Tony Perez 6
A go around doesn't mean you fly a circuit back to the beginning of the runway. You have to go through departure and usually get placed into a holding pattern until they can sequence you in.
I don't know THE reason for 45 minutes, but Juliana has one runway in use for both arrivals and departures, and usually requires back-tracking on the runway. So, I'm guessing if there were a couple of planes already in the pattern to come in, and a couple in sequence for departure, it could be at least 45 minutes.
The airport closed for about 30 minutes due to weather after their first approach.
spatr 0

Here's the video....they were low the first time around
Ken McIntyre 0
A youtube video and a photograph. Wow. They almost went for a swim. Anyone got the link to the flight track? I was unable to locate it on flightaware.
Ken McIntyre 0
Never mind. Found the track.
Ken McIntyre 0
Flightaware doesn't go below 500 feet at St Maarten.
The Alt shown comes from the transponder so if their QNH was set wrong then could explain why there's plausible deniability. Still, the GPWS relies on it's own system so they probably got a stern warning prior to breaking out of the clouds.
spatr 1
With all the amateur/pro photographers,video cams, and eyewitnesses, SXM is a place you really don't want to mess up. WestJet denies the plane ever went below 500 feet, the video disproved that. Now the crew will probably have to do a carpet dance in front of management.
Ken McIntyre 2
Yep. It's not the low approach. That happens. It's the denial.

I used to be well connected and I was good friends with a very high time Republic/Northwest Orient psa. He told me this story.

Back in the early 80's, there was an incident with Hughes Airwest/Republic jet that made a mistake, landing in Kennewick, WA. Vista field, now closed, was only 4008 feet in length. The crew taxied, took off, and finally sneaked into Pasco, WA 5 miles away. No one, including the passengers, said a word.

A few days later, a mechanic discovered barb wire fencing stuck on the aircraft near the tail. Uh oh, the flight crew knew they needed that WHOLE runway. An investigation turned up the truth, as there were eye witnesses in Kennewick. The entire crew, including flight attendants, were immediately given their walking papers.

Luckily, no one was harmed. Luckily as well, it was a DC9-10. A little hotrod designed for short runways.

Many years later, there was this C17 in Tampa...
James Simms 1
Don't forget the Atlas Air Dreamlifter LCF flight that landed @ Colonel James Jabara Airport instead of McConnell AFB, KS
Marv Crawford 0
Having been to the Sunset Beach Bar on 4-5 previous occasions and watching countless aircraft land at Princess Juliana, there is NO doubt in my mind that the WestJet aircraft was way too low on approach.
These pilots were obviously inexperienced and had never flown into this airport before. A very dangerous situation indeed.
scott Biller 0
I've been into this airport dozens of times flying a Citation X. Yes, I would say the first approach was a bit lower than I would have been comfortable with. But I am surprised no one has mentioned the large truck on the perimeter road that stops short of the runway end. This was always a concern of mine landing there. I'm wondering if this played into the pilots decision to go around. Had the pilot and truck driver continued, the outcome would have been different. Also, with a wet runway, the crew was likely focused on landing as close to the end as possible. One last comment, the publics access to the approach end of this runway is a big mistake.
terry gersdorf -2
I do this approach several times its not even noteworthy more fake news
ian mcdonell -4
The length of the wake turbulence on the ocean seems at variance with the just broke through the clouds scenario - the plane would not leave this length of disruption unless it was at this height for a distance that would not be logical - if the pilots recognised the height - which they would from the alarms going off - they would have made more significant corrections

I have a lot of suspicion about the photo
btweston 9
More significant? Than what?

Also, are you suggesting that the photographer and passengers are working together in a nefarious plot to say that the plane was really close to the water?
RadBaron 2
You're actually seeing "Ground Effect" under the plane, not wake turbulence
Cade foster -9
Not enough facts and a photo with very little reference. If they had just broke out of the clouds why so low? I assume they would be flying an ILS approach with cloud level that low. And the auto pilot would never put them that far below the glide slope while still engaged. IMHO
spatr 5
No ILS to 10 at SXM.
btweston 8
See the plane? See the water? See the buoy in the water? See the water being churned up by the jet exhaust?

You're right. No information.
Cade foster -4
wow full of hate today btwston....

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