Lingus A320 at London on Feb 3rd 2018, vehicle on runway during roll out

Last Update: August 22, 2019 / 15:40:02 GMT/Zulu time

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Incident Facts

Date of incident
Feb 3, 2018

Classification
Incident

Airline
Aer Lingus

Flight number
EI-4211

Departure
Lyon, France

Aircraft Registration
EI-CVB

Aircraft Type
Airbus A320

ICAO Type Designator
A320

An Aer Lingus Airbus A320-200, registration EI-CVB performing flight EI-4211 from Lyon (France) to London Gatwick,EN (UK) with 164 passengers and 6 crew, touched down on Gatwick's runway 26L although a vehicle was present on the active runway. The aircraft rolled out and taxied to the apron.

The AAIB reported the aircraft serial number 1394 from Lyon to Gatwick on Feb 3rd 2018 (without providing a time stamp) was landing in Gatwick with a "Vehicle on active runway during landing roll." The occurrence was rated a serious incident and is being investigated.

The aircraft flew two charter rotations from Gatwick to Lyon that day, EI-4210/EI-4211 as well as EI-4212/EI-4213. EI-4211 landed on Gatwick's runway 26L, EI-4213 on Gatwick's runway 08R.

On Aug 22nd 2019 the AAIB released their bulletin identifying flight EI-4211 landing on runway 26L as the occurrence flight. The AAIB released following conclusion:

Gatwick Airport operates at high intensity to maximise the use of its single runway. This demands that airport operations, ATC and aircraft all operate as efficiently as possible if the declared runway capacity is to be attained. This capacity is not imposed but is set by the airport itself.

In setting the capacity it is important to balance maximising the number of aircraft operating to the airport with the safety of the operation itself. This investigation indicates that the pressure of meeting the operating targets has had a direct effect on undertaking runway inspections both safely and effectively.

Many of the measures taken to redress the issues outlined in this report have yet to be completed and continued oversight and regular reviews in this area at all levels should be maintained.

The AAIB described the sequence of events:

The aircraft, callsign EIN4211, was operating a scheduled flight to Gatwick Airport and, as cleared, landed on Runway 26L. There was light rain at the time and a tailwind of about 3 kt. At the time the aircraft landed, two airport operations staff members were waiting in their vehicle, callsign Leader 6, at Hold G1 towards the end of Runway 26L to conduct a runway inspection.

About 12 seconds after touchdown, with the aircraft decelerating on the runway, the following transmissions were made:

ATC: ein4211 are you making foxtrot romeo?
EIN4211: er we’re making the second one ein4211
ATC: thank you that’s foxtrot romeo break leader 6 enter 26 left at golf vacate behind the XXXXXX (airline name) at foxtrot romeo
LEADER 6: leader 6 cleared to enter 26 left at golf and vacate behind the aircraft at foxtrot romeo wilco leader 6

The aircraft was still on the runway at a reported speed of about 60 kt and approaching Rapid Exit Taxiway (RET) Foxtrot Romeo when Leader 6 entered the runway travelling east towards the aircraft. The aircraft vacated the runway at RET Foxtrot Romeo and changed to the ATC Ground frequency whilst Leader 6, having driven along the runway, then also vacated at RET Foxtrot Romeo.

The aircraft commander had been surprised to see the vehicle entering the runway and believed the vehicle’s clearance had been conditional on the aircraft vacating first. As a result the commander submitted a safety report.

The AAIB reported ATC conducted an investigation, too, the ATC investigation concluded:

- the crew had misunderstood the clearance to the airport operations staff which had not been conditional on the aircraft vacating the runway before they could enter
- the crew were not familiar with the airport and runway exits available ‘which suggests they were also not aware of the standard runway inspection procedures at the unit’
- ‘there were no issues with the runway inspection process at Gatwick in general, or with this particular event’
- the runway inspection had been ‘conducted appropriately by the ATCO and Ops vehicle, and so the investigation is therefore closed.’

The AAIB analysed:

The ATC report justified the actions of the controller and operations staff as it considered the aircraft was committed to vacating at RET Foxtrot Romeo. This was based on the radio transmissions during the landing roll and ground radar recordings showing the aircraft moving off the centreline towards the exit as the operations vehicle entered the runway.

The report, however, gave no consideration to the fact the aircraft appeared to be still on the centreline at the time the instructions were issued to the operations vehicle, the speed of the aircraft, the wet state of the runway and the implications had the aircraft, for whatever reason, needed to continue on the runway past RET Foxtrot Romeo. There was also no apparent understanding of the potential distraction caused by asking the crew questions at a time of high workload.

These conclusions were inconsistent with the comments of the ATC manager who justified the actions based on the aircraft having been re-cleared, after it touched down, to vacate at RET Foxtrot Romeo: in effect an instruction during the landing to stop short of a particular position on the runway. It is not clear that this is in accordance with any recognised ATC procedure.

In confirming the procedure to be adopted, SI 021 made no reference to re-clearing aircraft, but specified the need to ensure an aircraft ‘must clearly be established in the turn off the runway-centreline into the runway exit’ before a vehicle can be cleared onto the runway ahead of it. This statement leaves the risk, as already outlined, of an aircraft subsequently turning again to continue along the runway past the exit. In addition, SI 021 contains no information on the direction runway inspections should be performed.
Incident Facts

Date of incident
Feb 3, 2018

Classification
Incident

Airline
Aer Lingus

Flight number
EI-4211

Departure
Lyon, France

Aircraft Registration
EI-CVB

Aircraft Type
Airbus A320

ICAO Type Designator
A320

This article is published under license from Avherald.com. © of text by Avherald.com.
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