Logan E145 at London on Aug 7th 2019, ran over towbar on landing
Last Update: January 23, 2020 / 16:45:52 GMT/Zulu time
A short time later the airport received a phone call from a general aviation pilot, who had departed Southend about 30 minutes prior to the occurrence, that he believed he had departed with the tow bar still attached to the nose gear of his aircraft.
On Jan 23rd 2020 the AAIB released their final bulletin concluding the probable causes of the serious incident were:
A general aviation towbar was inadvertently left attached to an aircraft because the pilot had been distracted by an earlier stressful event during his journey to the airport. The towbar dropped onto the runway during the departure and remained there for approximately 30 minutes, during which two other aircraft used the runway and a runway inspection was completed. A landing aircraft then ran over it. The towbar was inconspicuous because it did not have any reflective or other high visibility markings.
The AAIB analysed:
The pilot of a Cessna 210 departing from Southend Airport inadvertently left the aircraft’s towbar attached to the nosewheel. As the aircraft took off the towbar fell off and landed on the runway. The towbar remained on the runway for approximately 30 minutes during which time another aircraft landed, another took off and an operations vehicle completed an inspection. A landing Embraer 145 ran over the towbar during its landing roll.
The pilot of the Cessna reported that he was distracted by an early road traffic incident and this is probably why he forgot to remove the towbar. The incident highlights how stress from events unrelated to flying can cause a significant distraction and the importance of pilots honestly assessing their fitness for flight prior to every flight.
The towbar was not seen on the runway by two other aircraft that used the runway nor by a fire officer conducting an inspection. It is not known exactly which part of the runway the two aircraft used, so it is possible they did not pass the towbar. Alternatively, their attention may have been on flying their aircraft. The inspection was initially intended to be a wildlife inspection, so it is possible that the driver’s attention was focused towards the sky rather than the runway surface. However, the towbar was painted in dark colours so it did not stand out against the runway surface. The towbar might have been seen sooner if it had reflective or other high visibility markings.
Most airports do not currently have automatic means of detecting objects on the manoeuvring area, so they rely on them being seen during inspections or being seen by other airport users. Therefore, it is important that any equipment that could be left on a manoeuvring area is highly visible.
The IATA AHM provides recommendations for ground handling equipment to ensure it is clearly visible. However, these are not widely applied across general aviation ground equipment. Making ground equipment more visible would reduce the likelihood of it being left attached to the aircraft and increase the chance of it being seen quickly if it is left on a runway or manoeuvring area.
During this incident no damage was caused to the landing aircraft. However, objects on the manoeuvring area have the potential to cause serious harm to aircraft.
This article is published under license from Avherald.com. © of text by Avherald.com.
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