Comair B738 at Johannesburg and Durban on Apr 19th 2019, aircraft operated the flight with elevator damage following ground collision
Last Update: May 6, 2020 / 22:01:27 GMT/Zulu time
A Mango Boeing 737-800, registration ZS-SJH performing flight JE-1049 from Johannesburg to Durban (South Africa) with 183 passengers and 6 crew, was also taxiing for departure from Johannesburg'S runway 21R.
While nearing the intersection taxiway N and runway 21R the Mango 737 contacted the elevator of the Comair 737 with the right hand winglet. Both the winglet of the Mango 737 and the elevator of the Comair 737 were damaged.
The Mango 737 returned to the apron. The Comair however departed for their flight to Durban and landed in Durban without further incident about one hour later.
The elevator of the Comair needed to be replaced.
South Africa's Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) reported: "During a walk around with the ground engineer, it was discovered that the Mango aircraft had indeed clipped the Comair aircraft and that the skin on the outer side of the right hand winglet of the Mango aircraft was damaged." The occurrence was rated an accident and is being investigated.
On Aug 14th 2019 the SACAA released a preliminary report stating:
On 19 April 2019, ZS-SJH (Mango) and ZS-ZWV (Comair) both Boeing 737-800 were preparing to take off at FAOR on domestic flights with intention to land at FACT and FALE respectively. At about 1427Z, ZS-ZWV was instructed by TWR to taxi on taxiway “Lima”, “Alpha” and hold short of “Echo” to make way for ZS-SJH which was taxiing from parking bay A12 and had requested for a full-length departure. While reading back, ZS-ZWV requested intersection “November” for take-off. GND instructed ZS-SJH to taxi taxiway “Echo”, “Alpha” holding at runway 21R and ZS-ZWV was instructed to give way to ZS-SJH which was acknowledged by both pilots. However, ZS-SJH was observed turning out on taxiway “Foxtrot”. TWR then advised ZS-ZWV to continue on taxiway “Alpha” and turn right on intersection “November” because ZS-SJH was now behind him on taxiway “Alpha”. ZS-SJH was then given an option by GND to turn in to “Golf 10” into “Delta ramp”, “Golf 9”, “Alpha” to holding point 21R which ZS-SJH read back.
At 1436Z, ZS-ZWV contacted TWR and stated that when ZS-SJH was passing behind them, they felt a bit of a ‘bang’ but they were not sure if ZS-SJH had touched them. ZS-ZWV asked TWR to check with ZS-SJH if they felt anything. ZS-SJH was contacted by GND to ask them if they felt anything that is like a ‘bump’ when they were taxiing behind ZS-ZWV because ZS-ZWV felt something. ZS-SJH replied to GND that they had not collided with ZS-ZWV. The pilots of ZS-SJH indicated that the only thing they had felt was the normal bumps when taxiing over taxiway lights. GND then asked ZS-SJH to confirm that they went to “Delta ramp” to the holding point and they replied that they did not. They said they taxied behind ZS-ZWV.
ZS-ZWV pilot reported that after a while TWR came back to them and said twice, that ZS-SJH crew was sure that they were clear. The pilot of ZS-ZWV stated that since ZS-SJH crew were certain they were clear, he presumed the wobble came from the ZS-SJH jet blast that was blown over the tail of ZS-ZWV.
At 14:41:00Z, ZS-SJH contacted GND that they wanted to turn back to bay to inspect the aircraft since they were not certain that they did not touch ZS-ZWV. ZSZWV aircraft had already departed at 14:41:53Z without going back to the bay. The pilot of ZS-SJH stated that in the interest of safety, they decided to return to the bay to have engineering check the aircraft. During a walk around with the ground engineer, it was discovered that ZS-SJH had indeed clipped ZS-ZWV aircraft and that the skin on the outer side of the right hand winglet of ZS-SJH was damaged.
When airborne, ZS-ZWV operated normally. On approach into FALE, the ATC informed the ZS-ZWV crew that the ZS-SJH aircraft returned to the bay and the ground engineers had found a scratch on the aircraft’s winglet. ZS-ZWV was also inspected at FALE and the ground engineers found that one static wick on the left elevator was bent as well as the left aft tip of the horizontal stabilizer.
The SACAA described the damage:
When the Mango aircraft taxied on taxi way Alpha and went past the Comair aircraft which was stationary at holding point November, the R/H wing of the Mango aircraft made contact with the L/H horizontal stabiliser tip of the the Comair aircraft. The Mango aircraft sustained minor damage to the the skin on the outer side of the right hand winglet. The Comair aircraft sustained minor damage to the one static wick on the left elevator as well as the left aft tip of the horizontal stabilizer.
On May 6th 2020 the SACAA released their final report concluding the probable causes were:
The crew of the ZS-SJH opted not to follow the ATC advise for an alternate route and proceeded on taxiway Alpha before attempting to maneouvre behind ZS-ZWV, resulting in a collision with ZS-ZWV.
- Failure to adhere to the ATC instructions and advise.
- Deviation to SOP and non-compliance to ATC instructions.
- Poor airmanship by the ZS-SJH crew.
- Poor situational awareness by the ZS-SJH crew.
The SACAA analysed:
The ATC gave ZS-SJH an optional route which would have been the safest route past the stationary ZS-ZWV. The ATC’s optional route to ZS-SJH was to taxi via taxiway Golf 10 into Delta ramp then taxiway Golf 9 onto taxiway Alpha to holding point Runway 21R, which the crew of ZS-SJH read back correctly but elected to proceed on taxiway Alpha. The ZS-SJH attempted to maneouvre behind ZS-ZWV on taxiway Alpha and, during this attempt, the winglet of ZS-SJH collided with the left horizontal stabiliser of ZS-ZWV.
It is not clear why the ATC gave the crew of ZS-SJH an option to taxi via taxiway Golf 10 into Delta ramp then taxiway Golf 9 onto taxiway Alpha to holding point Runway 21R instead of instructing them to do so. The ATC should have issued ZS-SJH with an instruction and not give them an option. It is also likely that the ATC knew or suspected that the ZS-SJH would not safely maneouvre behind ZS-ZWV.
The length between the holding point of taxiway November and the left shoulder of taxiway Alpha is approximately 69m. The ZS-ZWV aircraft had taken approximately 40m of that length, leaving a distance of 29m behind it. The wingspan of ZS-SJH is 36m long, which made the crew to manoeuvre the aircraft (ZS-SJH) to the left of the centreline to clear ZSZWV, but this was unsuccesful. During the maneouvre, the ZS-SJH was behind ZS-ZWV. The ZS-SJH impacted the elevator and rudder of the stationary ZS-ZWV.
The ZS-ZWV continued to FALE without any further incidents and the crew members were advised by ATC FALE of the incident which occurred in FAOR.
This article is published under license from Avherald.com. © of text by Avherald.com.
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