Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Ottawa-bound Jazz regional jet aborts landing when snowplow enters runway

OTTAWA — An airliner was forced to abort landing at the Ottawa airport this week when a snow removal vehicle mistakenly drove onto the runway.

The Jazz Bombardier CRJ900 regional jet en route from Halifax was 1.8 kilometres from runway 32 at 3:10 p.m. Tuesday when an airport vehicle with the call sign Snowpack wandered onto the landing strip’s threshold, according to a Transport Canada report.

“Snowpack had originally read back that they would hold short of runway 32 on taxiway Echo,” says the report.

But a tower controller spotted the vehicle entering the active runway at the threshold and instructed the plane’s pilots to overshoot the runway.

The jet, capable of carrying up to 95 passengers and crew, circled and landed without further incident at 3:24 p.m.

It was the third “runway incursion” at the airport this year, the second requiring an inbound plane to abort landing and the second involving an airport vehicle.

It follows a March 24 Transport Canada notice to airline operators that the rate of runway conflicts at Canadian airports remains what it characterizes as stubbornly high.

There are about 350 incursions a year in Canada during roughly six million takeoffs and landings. For every 100,000 aircraft movements, the incursion rate fell steadily to 4.25 in 2007 from 5.89 in 2003, according to Transport Canada. But it has been slowly rising since 2007.

The airline industry, Transport Canada and Nav Canada, the company that controls Canada’s civilian air space and commercial air navigation service, are collectively working on the issue.