Centre of Applied Research Technology

The automatic identification of unstable approaches from flight


The automatic identification of unstable approaches from flight data by Coumou, Hunink and de Boer. Unstable approaches have been identified as a major risk factor in approach and landing accidents and runway excursions, but hardly ever lead to go-arounds despite strong safety initiatives.

This study challenges the current industry standard for the identification of unstable approaches, as defined by the Flight Safety Foundation Task Force for Approach and Landing Accidents. Based on two independent sets of flight data for 30 approaches, a new algorithm to identify genuinely unstable approaches is designed and validated. This algorithm has been applied at the target airline to better understand pilot decision making in an unstable approach. The adoption of this algorithm to better target the risks associated with unstable approaches is advocated.


Coumou, T., Hunink, A. & de Boer, R.J (2014) The Automatic Identification of Unstable Approaches from Flight Data, In Proc. of the 6th International Conference on Research in Air Transportation (ICRAT), Istanbul, Turkey.

28 July 2014

Publication date

Jul 2014


Coumou, T.
Hunink, A.
de Boer, R.J.