Henan Airlines Flight 8387 (VD8387/KPA8387) was a domestic flight operated by Henan Airlines from Harbin Taiping International Airport to Yichun Lindu Airport, both located in Heilongjiang province, China. On the night of August 24, 2010, the Embraer E-190-100 LR operating the route crashed on approach to Yichun Lindu with 91 passengers and 5 crew members on board. This was the first hull-loss and the first accident with fatalities involving an Embraer E-190.
The final report, released in June, 2012 by Chinese State Security Agency for Work Safety (CSAWS) concluded that there was a failure of the crew for not observing the safety rules for landing under fog.
Flight 8387 departed Harbin Airport at 20:51, at 21:10 the aircraft obtained the weather from Yichun Airport and they were told the visibility was 2,800 m (9,200 ft) . At 21:16 the crew were alerted to dense fog at the airport and within the next ten minutes they confirmed a decision height of 440 m (1,440 ft) for a VOR/DME approach to Runway 30. At 21:28:19 the airport controller told the Flight 8387 that although the vertical visibility was ok the horizontal visibility was bad. At 21:28:38 the aircraft overflew the airport and was seen by the airport controller. At 21:33 they completed a procedural turn for the approach, at 21:36 the autopilot was disengaged. At 21:37 the aircraft had descended to the 440 m (1,440 ft) decision height but the pilot could not see the runway. At 21:38 the aural height warning started, although the crew could not see the runway and had passed the decision height they did not do a missed approach procedure and the aircraft hit the ground.
According to Yichun officials preliminary observations, the aircraft broke apart while it was in the process of landing at around 21:36 local time (13:36 UTC), while the airport was enclosed with fog. The aircraft touched down around 1.5 km (0.93 mi) short of the runway, then caught fire. The wreckage of the fuselage came to a rest 700 m (2,300 ft) from the runway. Some passengers escaped through gaps in the fuselage of the cabin.
Details surrounding the crash were unclear in the immediate aftermath of the incident; a local official reported that the aircraft broke in two as it was landing, and that passengers were thrown from the aircraft, though some survivors said that it remained intact until it came to a rest away from the runway.
Subsequent investigations concluded that the first impact was with trees, 1,100 m (3,600 ft) from the runway threshold, at 21:38:08. Thereafter, the aircraft hit the ground with the wheels of main landing gear, 1,080 m (3,540 ft) from the landing runway threshold, running on the ground a distance of 870 m (2,850 ft), when the engines collided with the ground. With this impact, the wing fuel tanks ruptured, spilling fuel and causing the fire. The survivors left aircraft by the door behind the cockpit and through openings in the fuselage. Due to the impact, emergency exits could not be opened, and a large amount of smoke accumulated in the cabin. The pilot, who survived the accident, could not organize nor conduct the passengers evacuation.
The aircraft was in a two-class configuration with six business seats and 92 economy seats but at the time of accident had only 91 passengers. As well as the passengers the aircraft had five crew (two flight crew, a purser, flight attendant and security officer), a total of 96 on board.
Initial reports suggested that 53 people survived the crash, while 43 were found dead at the scene; later reports corrected the death toll to 42 because the body of one victim was torn apart. Most of the dead were seated in the rear of the aircraft. Of the 54 survivors, 17 had only minor injuries but two were seriously burned and died in hospital.
Many passengers were participants of a national conference on human resources and employment, including vice minister Sun Baoshu and other officials of the Chinese Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security. Two participants from Chengdu were among the fatalities.
The pilot survived the accident, though he sustained heavy facial injuries.
Some survivors said that they escaped through a hole in the front of the plane.
On August 31, Henan Airlines announced that it would pay 960,000 yuan (around $140,000 USD) to the relatives of each person killed in the crash. The payment was required under PRC civil aviation law.
Crews immediately began searching for survivors, although the efforts were hampered by fog. This phase of the rescue operation lasted for around eight hours before personnel at the scene began clearing the wreckage the morning after the accident.
Henan Airlines cancelled all flights in the days after the incident and fired the airline's general manager. Nationally, Chinese airlines performed increased safety checks in response to the crash.
The Administration for Industry and Commerce of Henan Province announced days after the incident that it had rescinded the enterprise name registration of Henan Airlines, and demanded that the airline operator restore its original name of Kunpeng Airlines. The administration cited as reasons for its decision that the name Henan Airlines had caused public misunderstanding and greatly damaged the image of the province, which holds no stake in the airline operator. This move was immediately met with media criticism, which questioned the validity of the administration's interference with Henan Airlines' rights to choice of name. It was also revealed that the province had offered favorable conditions to attract the airline operator to adopt its current name, and celebrated the renaming afterwards.
Both the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) and the aircraft's manufacturer, Embraer, sent teams of investigators to the crash site. The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board appointed an accredited representative, as the aircraft's General Electric CF34 engines were made in the U.S. The flight recorders were recovered at the scene and sent to Beijing for analysis.
Early in the investigation, the qualifications of the pilot were focused on, as it emerged that upwards of a hundred pilots flying for Shenzhen Airlines, Henan Airlines' parent company, had falsified their claims of flying experience.
Investigators from the State Administration of Work Safety concluded that the captain, on his first flight into Yichun, switched off the autopilot and approached the runway covered by radiation fog despite the fact that visibility of 2,800 m (9,200 ft) was below the minimum of 3,600 m (11,800 ft).
The crew descended below minimum descent altitude although visual contact with the runway had not been established.
The crew also failed to initiate a missed approach when the radio altimeter callouts indicated that the airplane was near the ground and the communication and cooperation within the crew was insufficient, despite the known safety risks at that airport.
The Embraer E-190AR was a twin-engined jet airliner registered in China as B-3130. It was built in Brazil in 2008, with manufactures serial number 19000223, and delivered to the airline on 4 December 2008. At the time of accident the aircraft had flown 5,109.6 hours and had completed 4,712 flight cycles.
Yichun Lindu Airport is located in Yichun City, Heilongjiang Province, has a runway 2.3 km (1.4 mi) long, 45 m (148 ft) width, qualified to operate with single-aisle airliners like Airbus A320 and Boeing 737. The airport started operations on 26 August 2009, one year before accident. On the day of the accident the airport had two flight controllers, they were both in good health conditions and qualified, the final report also confirmed that all safety procedures had been done correctly, the airfield navigation and communications equipment was working correctly and the runway was serviceable.
The airport is located in a valley, with about 90% relative humidity, especially in the afternoon, from 17:00 until 21:00. As the temperature drops rapidly in this period with little wind it is common for a rapid condensation of water vapor, the basic condition for a fog formation known as radiation fog, which characteristic is a thick and low fog, significantly impacting operations. In September 2009, one month after the start of Yichun airport operations, China Southern Airlines decided not to operate at night at that airport due to concerns with the safety of operations.
On the night of the accident, the airport meteorological observatory issued bulletins stating visibility conditions. At 19:00, the visibility was 1.0 km (0.62 mi), by 21:00 it was 8.0 km (5.0 mi). At 21:08 the airport issued a special bulletin reporting that visibility was reduced to 2.8 km (1.7 mi) and decreasing rapidly.