The UK’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch recently released a report regarding an incident which took place on August 13th, 2018. In the report it shows that an easyJet Europe A320 and a Norwegian B737 had a runway incursion incident at Edinburgh International Airport.
The easyJet Europe A320-200 with registration OE-IVC was departing, performing flight U2-14 from Edinburgh (EDI) to London Luton (LTN). Onboard were 180 passengers and six crew. The easyJet flight was accelerating for take-off.
The Norwegian Air Boeing 737-800 with registration EI-FJW was approaching for landing. Flight D8-1601 from New York Stewart International Airport (SWF) to Edinburgh had 159 passengers and seven crew onboard and was on final approach to Edinburgh’s runway 06.
The aircraft was advised to expect a late landing clearance. It then continued for the approach until the flare. This is when “the crew received landing clearance, touched down and rolled out”.
According to a report by the AAIB – The Air Accidents Investigation Branch – by the time the landing Norwegian 737 was over the runway surface, the departing A320 was still in the takeoff roll. The distance between the two aircraft was as close as 875 horizontal meters.
Below is part of the AAIB’s report synopsis:
“A combination of factors, including brief delays to the departure of the A320 and the speed of the Boeing 737 being higher than normal, led to the reduction in separation before the controllers became aware of the closeness of the aircraft. The trainee controller lacked the experience to resolve the situation in a timely manner and the supervising On-The-Job Training Instructor judged it safer to let the 737 land than to initiate a go-around in proximity to the departing aircraft.”
A combination of factors
The report lists a number of factors that contributed to the incident. Many of the factors are associated with the poor weather at the time and the procedures taken in such circumstances – and how they were not adhered to due to inexperience and miscommunication.
Below are the first three factors named by the report:
- Stop Bar. Stop Bars were in use due to poor weather. Due to a lack of experience, the trainee controller did not turn off the stop bar in a timely manner. As a result, the easyJet plane could not move from the holding point to line up.
- Speed of landing aircraft on approach. The Norwegian aircraft was instructed to maintain a speed of at least 160 KIAS ((Knots Indicated Air Speed)) instead of exactly 160 KIAS. The crew complied with the instructions and were at 181 kt ground speed at six nm when the aircraft touched down on the runway. With the weather conditions, the trainee controller wasn’t able to see the aircraft until it was inside two nm from touchdown, but failed to rely on information screens. Failure to refer to the radar display meant that the closure of the gap went unnoticed until the late stages of the approach. The training instructor could not see the screen as the trainee was blocking it.
- Time taken for the departing aircraft to take off. Due to lack of instruction of air traffic control, the easyJet flight was unaware of the need to quicken their departure.
The AAIB report goes in to much more depth regarding the incident. It can be viewed here.
The ANSP (air navigation service provider) at Edinburgh has taken a number of safety actions in response to this incident. This includes updated procedures as well as a higher chair. This is so the On-The-Job Training Instructor has “a better view of the trainee, the screens and the trainee interactions with the equipment”.
According to the BBC, a spokesman for Edinburgh Airport said:
“Safety is absolutely paramount in our operations, a priority shared by Air Navigation Solutions [the firm which provides air traffic control services at Edinburgh] and we have discussed this incident in depth with them…We are satisfied that the remedial measures put in place are robust and continue to regard safety as the number one priority.”
Simple Flying has reached out to Norwegian for comment. Here is what they had to say:
“Our flight crews are trained to the highest standards and the safety and security of our customers remains our number one priority. The AAIB report concluded that a number of factors led to the loss of separation between aircraft and as such the Air Navigation Service Provider has taken necessary steps to mitigate this event occurring again, at no time were Norwegian’s procedures questioned or the safety of our passengers compromised.”