AAIB Report Boeing 737-4Q8, partial electrical failure

While descending to land at Brussels National Airport, a partial electrical failure occurred resulting in the loss of a number of systems including the electronic and analogue flight instruments on the left side of the cockpit. The pilot declared a MAYDAY and aware that a thunderstorm was approaching the airfield, assessed that the weather reported by Air Traffic Control (ATC) would allow him to continue and land at Brussels. However, visual references were lost at a late stage of the approach when the aircraft entered a heavy rain shower. A go-around was initiated during which the pilots estimated the amount of thrust required; the aircraft initially appeared to be slow to accelerate and establish a positive rate of climb. The aircraft entered an orbit and subsequently landed successfully from a second approach.

The electrical failure was caused by a fault in the transfer relay which resulted in the loss of power to a number of electrical buses. Following the electrical failure, the commander’s assessment was that the aircraft was in a stable condition so continued the approach to land at Brussels National Airport. This gave the pilots relatively little time to assess the situation and a number of non-normal checklists actions were not carried out; consequently, the aircraft was incorrectly configured for the approach and landing.

At a late stage of the approach the pilots lost visual references and executed a go-around. The aircraft then orbited while the thunderstorms cleared the airfield and the pilots used the time to further analyse the failure. The second approach and landing were uneventful.

Safety action has been taken by the operator to provide clarity in the aircraft documentation.

Read the report.

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