Norra AT72 at Helsinki on Jan 23rd 2018, cleared for takeoff with snow removal still on runway

Last Update: October 17, 2018 / 15:24:56 GMT/Zulu time

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Incident Facts

Date of incident
Jan 23, 2018

Flight number

Riga, Latvia

Aircraft Registration

Aircraft Type
ATR ATR-72-200

ICAO Type Designator

A Norra Nordic Regional Airlines Avions de Transport Regional ATR-72-212A on behalf of Finnair, registration OH-ATO performing flight AY-1071 from Helsinki (Finland) to Riga (Latvia) with 60 people on board, was cleared for takeoff from runway 22L and began their departure roll when snow removal equipment was still within the runway protected area. The ATR became normally airborne ahead of the position of the snow removal equipment, climbed out normally and continued to Riga for a safe landing.

Finland's Onnettomuustutkintakeskus (Safety Investigation Authority Finland SAIF) rated the occurrence a serious incident and opened an investigation. The SAIF reported the snow removal equipment had already moved onto the taxiway but had not yet crossed the hold short line to leave the protected runway area, when the aircraft departed. The aircraft rotated well ahead of the taxiway.

On Feb 1st 2018 the SAIF amended their statement: "TWR had earlier cleared three airport maintenance vehicles for snow removal at RWY 22L and its vicinity. TWR cleared FIN3PU for takeoff at RWY 22L when the vehicles still had a valid clearance for snow removal. TWR noticed the situation when FIN3PU was airborne. The precise distance between the vehicles and the aircraft is under investigation."

On Oct 17th 2018 the SAIF released their final report in Finnish only (Editorial note: to serve the purpose of global prevention of the repeat of causes leading to an occurrence an additional timely release of all occurrence reports in the only world spanning aviation language English would be necessary, a Finnish only release does not achieve this purpose as set by ICAO annex 13 and just forces many aviators to waste much more time and effort each in trying to understand the circumstances leading to the occurrence. Aviators operating internationally are required to read/speak English besides their local language, investigators need to be able to read/write/speak English to communicate with their counterparts all around the globe). The form and content of the report, mixing up two occurrences and mixing facts, analysis and conclusion into conclusions in addition to the need to translate from Finnish make it impossible to The Aviation Herald to understand the report and create a meaningful summary. Hence we use the brief English abstract provided by the SAIF that does not even mention the conclusions or causes:

The Safety Investigation Authority, Finland has completed a safety investigation on the serious incidents that took place at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport on 23 and 24 January 2018. The incidents did not result in any injuries to persons or damage to property or the environment. Safety investigation on serious incidents is done to improve the safety of aviation and to prevent incidents and accidents.

In the first incident, on 23 January 2018, the Air Traffic Control (ATC) cleared a business jet to take off from a runway on and around which three runway maintenance vehicles were working. Two tractors and one brush blower were clearing snow off of runway and taxiway lights.

In the second incident, on 24 January 2018, a business jet inadvertently taxied onto an active runway for which an airliner on approach was on short final. The ATC noticed the runway incursion from the ground control radar display and ordered the aircraft to stop immediately. In addition, the ATC ordered the approaching airliner to go around.

The Safety Investigation Authority issues three safety recommendations to improve safety and to prevent damage

The Safety Investigation Authority recommends that Finavia and ANS Finland handle future violations of the Memorandum of Understanding signed between aerodrome maintenance and the ATC as defects. By doing so they will be properly analysed. In the first incident, which occurred on 23 January 2018, the Memorandum of Understanding for aerodrome maintenance was not followed. Proper anticipation of maintenance operations would have improved safety by reducing sudden distractions in air traffic controlling.

Second, the Safety Investigation Authority recommends that ANS Finland and Finavia improve the ATC system’s touch screen displays in such a manner that aircraft and land vehicles are clearly distinguishable from each other. In the first incident, which occurred on 23 January 2018, the vehicle strips on the air traffic controller’s e-Strip display were not clearly distinguishable from the strips indicating aircraft and runways.

In addition, the Safety Investigation Authority recommends that The Finnish Transport Safety Agency, when conducting inspections of operators, ensure that the operators’ taxiing procedures take into account that flight crews continuously maintain sufficient situational awareness. In the second incident, which occurred on 24 January 2018, the flight crew of the aircraft was concentrating on the before take-off checklist during taxiing, rather than paying sufficient attention to where their aircraft was going.

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EFHK 230850Z 27004KT 9999 BKN046 M12/M14 Q1020 NOSIG=
EFHK 230820Z 24004KT 9999 BKN045 M12/M15 Q1020 NOSIG=
EFHK 230750Z 25004KT 9999 BKN043 M13/M15 Q1020 NOSIG=
EFHK 230720Z 23005KT 9999 BKN042 M14/M16 Q1019 NOSIG=
EFHK 230650Z 29003KT 9999 SCT042 M14/M16 Q1019 NOSIG=
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EFHK 230550Z 30007KT 9999 FEW045 M13/M15 Q1019 NOSIG=
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Incident Facts

Date of incident
Jan 23, 2018

Flight number

Riga, Latvia

Aircraft Registration

Aircraft Type
ATR ATR-72-200

ICAO Type Designator

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