The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating a Nov. 29 incident in which a Delta Air Lines Boeing 737-900ER on approach to Harstfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (KATL) was aligned with an occupied taxiway before the pilots initiated a go-around. According to incident information released Wednesday by NTSB, the 737, operating as Delta Flight 2196 from Indianapolis, did not overfly the aircraft on the taxiway during the go-around.
The inbound airplane was cleared to land, and was initially lined up, on runway 09R at KATL, but radar data indicate that within about one mile of the runway, the 737 began to deviate left of the approach course and subsequently aligned with taxiway N, NTSB said. A go-around was initiated after the airplane crossed the start of the taxiway. Daytime instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the incident, which occurred about 1106 local time.
NTSB said it was notified of the incident on Nov. 30 and interviewed the incident captain, who was the pilot monitoring, and the incident first officer, who was the pilot flying, on Dec. 4.
The incident flight crew told investigators that the airplane intercepted the glideslope clear of clouds, but that there was a cloud layer below. The first officer said that at about 300 ft above ground level (AGL) he saw that the airplane was slightly right of course, so he corrected to the left but overcorrected and the airplane deviated left of course. At the decision height of 200 ft AGL the localizer reached full-scale deflection on the instrument panel, the first officer reported.
The captain stated that he called for a go-around at the decision height because he did not have the airport environment or approach lights in sight. Both pilots said the captain called for a go-around before it was called for by air traffic control.
The flight crewmembers of the airplane on taxiway N told the NTSB that they saw the incident airplane briefly, in and out of the clouds, but that it did not overfly them nor did they recall hearing any engine noise from the plane.