FlyOne Airbus A319 Departs From Runway Occupied By Vehicles

The Moldovan Air Traffic Services Authority (MoldATSA) has reported to the CAA after a FlyOne A319 was given take-off clearance by Chisinau tower, despite there being vehicles on the runway.

FlyOne A319 landing
FlyOne A319 cleared for take-off despite checker vehicles on the runway. Photo: Anna Zvereva from Tallinn, Estonia via Wikimedia

Moldovan Air Traffic Services Authority – the Air Navigation Services Provider for the Republic of Moldova – has filed an aircraft proximity report with the Civil Aviation Authority. The report surrounds an incident which took place at Chisinau airport on September 30th.

According to Flight Global, the incident concerns a FlyOne A319-100 jet departing the airport for Moscow Vnukovo. MoldATSA has deemed the proximity incident a rating of “serious”.

Flight 5F131 (Reg: registration ER-00002) took off from Chisinau according to the tower controller’s instruction. The Moldovan ANSP stated that the controller had given, “clearance to an aircraft to take off on an [occupied] runway.”

The controller has since been suspended.

We have contacted MoldATSA for comment, but have so far received no reply.

MoldATSA

Created in 1994, MoldATSA is owned by the nation of Moldova and operates on a self-financing basis. It is managed by the country’s Ministry of Transport and Roads Infrastructure.

In 2015 MoldATSA found itself at the heart of a nationwide dispute with Komstroy, a company in Ukraine. As part of a debt recovery by Komstroy for electricity provided by the Ukrainian utility, various Moldovan companies were required by law to pay a share of a debt worth $47 million.

Chisinau Airport at night
MoldATSA a victim of political proximity. Photo: Serhio via Wikimedia

As a result, MoldATSA’s then-meager assets (amounting to $160,000) were frozen. The money is still held by a fiscal regulator in Belgium.

According to Rise Moldova, at the same time, MoldATSA did not receive $3 million from Eurocontrol for services rendered to aerial navigation. That led the ANSP to renege on hundreds of thousands of dollars to suppliers, contractors and employees.

The effects of this unhappy time have been exacerbated by a year-on-year drop in transiting traffic due to the ongoing conflict with Russian forces in Ukraine. Traffic volume, writes Rise Moldova, is currently 60% below par.

Unfortunate series of events

That aside, the incident that took place on September 30th appears to have been the result of a momentary lapse of concentration.

FlyOne jet on taxiway
A lapse of concentration could be symptomatic of problems associated with moldATSA. Photo: Alec Wilson from Khon Kaen, Thailand via Wikimedia

FlyOne’s aircraft lined up on runway 26 and was given a prompt take-off clearance just after 16:00 local time. The crew carried out the instruction unaware of a runway incursion up ahead.

At the point of rotation, the pilot noticed vehicles at the threshold of 08. The aircraft was, by that point, airborne. Writes Flight Global, the pilot asked the tower controller whether it was normal for vehicles to be present on the runway during a take-off run.

The controller appeared not to understand the question. He instead instructed the crew to switch to the Chisinau approach frequency.

The pilot reiterated his concern. “Sir, there were three vehicles on the runway, at the threshold, when we departed,” he said. To which he finally received the reply, “OK, roger”.

The aircraft continued to Moscow for a safe landing about 90 minutes later.

Social media rant

News of the incident was first reported on Twitter, writes Flight Global. A rant from a former executive of MoldATSA said the tower operator “forgot” to remove checker vehicles from the runway prior to clearing the A319 for take-off.

MoldATSA has begun an investigation of the incident but admits that human error is probably to blame.

Moldova’s Air Ministry has said that in light of the event it intends to tackle what it says are “systemic problems” of safety within its air traffic service. Whether that hints at a bruised and battered MoldATSA is unclear, but the aforementioned financial woes are certain to be hindering the Air Nav provider’s operational efficiency.

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