Analysis of Mountain Wave Effects on a Hard Landing Incident in Pico Aerodrome Using the AROME Model and Airborne Observations

J. Maruhashi, Pedro Serrão, Margarida Belo-Pereira*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


A hard landing incident in Pico Aerodrome (LPPI) involving an Airbus A320-200 aircraft is investigated using airborne observations and forecasts of the AROME (Applications of Research to Operations at Mesoscale) model. A second flight is also analyzed. The severity of the wind shear during both flights is quantified using the intensity factor “I” that is based on aerial data and recommended by ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization). During Flight 1, 36% of the landing phase (below 2100 ft) occurred under “severe” wind shear conditions and 16% occurred under “strong” conditions. Upstream characteristics included southwest winds, stable stratification and a Froude number close to 1. According to the AROME model, these circumstances triggered the development of vertically propagating mountain waves, with maximum vertical velocities above 400 ft/min and exceeding 200 ft/min in the flight path. These conditions, together with the severe wind shear, may have caused the incident. During the second flight, a wake with lee vortices and reversed flow developed in the region of the flight path, which is consistent with a low upstream Froude number and/or with the flow regime diagram of previous studies. During the approach phase of this flight, “severe” wind shear conditions were absent, with “strong” ones occurring 4% of the time. It predominantly displayed “light” conditions during 68% of this phase. As a result of the comparison between “I” and the AROME turbulence indicators, preliminary thresholds are proposed for these indexes. Lastly, this study provides an objective verification of AROME wind forecasts, showing a good agreement with airborne observations for wind speeds above 10 kt, but a poor skill for weaker winds.
Original languageEnglish
Article number350
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Turbulence indicators
  • Aircraft
  • Mountain waves
  • Wind shear
  • Froude number
  • Azores Island
  • Aircraft observations
  • wake


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