A shipment of Moderna COVID-19 vaccines to Bhutan was shaken and stirred after an unorthodox approach and landing at Paro in the high mountainous country. The Intra Asia Boeing 737-300 freighter departed Kolkata, India, last Tuesday for Paro and someone on the flight deck shot cellphone video that’s lit up aviation forums. The Aviation Herald has the most complete picture of what happened.

Paro is the isolated country of Bhutan’s only international airport and is at 7,332 feet. It’s been called “the world’s most dangerous airport” given the surrounding terrain and the sometimes frightful weather. But for this flight, the weather looks benign and the rest is on the pilots. The unstable approach is followed by a wallowing S-turn, a series of enunciated warnings and the neck-snapping landing. The aircraft flew to its next destination of Bangkok, Thailand, about 16 hours later.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.


    • Plenty to fault here. Mask wearing isn’t one of those. Asians have been wearing masks and thought nothing of it decades before COVID-19 came along.

  1. “Okay.” “Okay.” “Okay.”

    To quote Inigo Montoya, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

  2. Perhaps the second officer might have put down his smart phone while he was landing? And the captain stop playing flight instructor?
    Distracted sterile cockpit?
    I’d put the crew on leave, and require their taking a few weeks of training in a full motion simulator.
    Looks like they are lucky that the landing gear struts didn’t punch holes in the wings!

  3. Looks like Boeing’s Fault. They should ground every 737 again until more placards are squeezed on to the panel with the rest. The placard might read : “Put Your Phone down FLY THE PLANE”.

  4. Boeing’s response to the Max issues obviously exposed hazards in the organization but it was understandable if the gut reaction to the first crash was to imagine something like this. Of course human factors is often about how the gut reaction is exactly wrong…

  5. Let’s see he got bank angle, sink rate, pull up,pull up. The good news is they can make a maintenance entry that the GPWS checks out satisfactory.🤔

    Pro tip when you get 40,30,20,10 as fast as the box can talk your landing is not going to end well 🙄

    We love to complain about the regulator in first world jurisdictions, but this is what happens when you have nobody minding the shop…..

  6. This has been completely misinterpreted: the captain was simply impressing his buddies by showing off his previous carrier experience, albeit in a 130,000 pound airliner surrounded by mountains. Also, the company is assessing whether to adopt a LOSA program based on the feedback they receive from posting the video to the world. C’mon now…everyone needs to have a little fun on the job :-)!

  7. As I sit watching this video, it was like flying along with these two nit-wits.
    People wonder how, and why airplanes crash ?
    Well, when you have goofballs like these sitting in the cockpit– it is any wonder.
    They were “UNSTABLE” from the get go!
    and the really sad thing is neither one of them realized it. They just kept that bad approach going on. I can’t help but wonder what kind of Airline they work (fly) for? Training? Standards?

  8. Somebody, get the a/c serial number. Video will affect resale valuation. Degrade from Cream Puff to something else?

  9. A good breakdown of this video can be found here: youtu.be/3tga6fn6nXI
    The summary is that Paro is a tricky airport, it appears there were likely 3 pilots on board (with the jumpseat pilot coaching the pilots through the approach), the pilot flying not completely following the guide’s instructions, and the pilot monitoring unprofessionally using his cell phone to record the landing instead of actually being pilot-monitoring.

    • Excellent, excellent analysis. Thanks Gary for posting. As someone else famously said five days a week for years, “and now you know the rest of the story.”

  10. The audio must have been cutting in and out. I didn’t hear the part where the LSO said “Call the ball” and the PF’s “Roger ball” response.