I saw this YouTube video about a Gulfstream jet that came into landing on Princess Juliana International airport and the landing does not seem to be by the book at all. It seems like the landing gear is only a few centimeters from hitting the fence and a meter from hitting the people on the beach. It looks like to me that he is way below the glideslope, but since I'm not that familiar with Princess Juliana I really can't confirm anything.

Is there any more information available about this incident? Was it actually a normal landing, or was it caused by wind shear or pilot error? How often does this occur?


I found this comment in the comment section from someone who claim to be a long time pilot:

Juliana is Class D so 91.129 and 703 applies:

  • FAR 91.129 (E) "An airplane approaching to land on a runway served by a visual approach slope indicator shall maintain an altitude at or above the glide slope until a lower altitude is necessary for a safe landing."

  • See also FAR 91.703 (a)(1) "Each person operating a civil aircraft of U.S. registry outside of the United States shall: when over the high seas, comply with annex 2 (Rules of the Air) to the Convention on International Civil Aviation and with 91.117(c), 91.127, 91.129, and 91.131;

They were way below the visual glide slope indicators i.e PAPIs (for Juliana), and (from flying this approach myself) it's not necessary for a safe landing. Besides ...it's just not very good practice.

Sincerely, Long time pilot. (:

I have to say that by my logic thinking: I agree with this guy. I am not a pilot myself, but here is why I agree with him:

Low approach method: If the plane hits the fence: It could cause the gear to break of (And maybe hit someone) and when the plane touches down on the runway with broken landing gear at flying speed: It could cause a rapture in the fuel tanks, igniting it. And you are essentially a tumbling fireball down the runway.

High approach method: If you fly higher to avoid the fence: The chances of hitting it and cause a tumbling fireball are greatly lowered. However: You may overrun the runway. But this would be preferred (In my book atleast). Since the plane has touched down on the runway and slowed down: You decrease the chances of fuel ignition when you overrun. And if the fuel ignites at the end: You will most likely end up with the fish. And the fire may not be put out completely, but greatly suppressed. And since the speed also is lowered: The chances of survival is greatly improved.

This is just my personal look on this. And some may or may not agree with me. But since the YouTube comment is there: I though there might be something to this.

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    $\begingroup$ Just search for "Low flying aircraft over beach" and you will see many similar videos, including larger airplanes like 747's. This beach is VERY close to the end of the runway, and a "normal" threshold crossing height is only 50 feet above the runway. This is low, and usually it is just the angle which makes it look even lower. $\endgroup$ – Lnafziger Jun 4 '16 at 15:28

There's no incident here. St Martin has a very short runway which spans a small stretch of land between 2 beaches, it's an airport where jets need to be on the numbers. It's famous among plane watchers and there are hundreds of videos of aircraft coming in low enough it seems as if you could reach up and touch the landing gear.

So if there was a glideslope this aircraft was certainly below it, however it's not an instrument landing so glideslope had nothing to do with it.

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    $\begingroup$ Well considering that the 747 lands there: I thought a little Gulfstream didn't need to go that low? $\endgroup$ – Alexander Johansen Feb 26 '15 at 15:25
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    $\begingroup$ Considering that an overrun means rolling into the water if I was landing any fast aircraft there I'd put it on the numbers. $\endgroup$ – GdD Feb 26 '15 at 16:44
  • $\begingroup$ How about this argument tho: What if a wind shear or something happens that stalls the plane right before they are over the beach? I'd rather overrun the runway and into the water after the plane has had the chance to slow down after touchdown, rather than hitting the fence, or worse: The people on the beach when the plane is traveling at flying speed. I think it would be more catastrophic to hit the fence rather than a slowed overrun. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Johansen Feb 26 '15 at 19:47
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    $\begingroup$ @AlexanderJohansen For what it's worth and in my opinion, if conditions were present that indicate possible windshear, the best course of action would be to carry appropriate extra airspeed (1/2 the expected gust value?) down to the flare, but still plant it on the numbers. $\endgroup$ – Terry Feb 27 '15 at 4:46

Some of those Caribbean airports are really nuts. They squeeze them onto tiny little islands.

A 3-degree glide slope will be 10 feet high at 200 feet from the numbers, or just over the fence.


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