Thursday, December 22, 2016
Investigation of near-miss at Calgary International Airport follows warnings
As Canada’s transportation watchdog warns of safety risks at airports, investigators are reviewing an incident in Calgary in which two aircraft got too close during takeoff.
The Transportation Safety Board is investigating a close call after an Air Canada plane was cleared for takeoff at the Calgary International Airport on the afternoon of Dec. 2.
The aircraft had travelled less than a kilometre when the flight crew noticed a small Sunwest plane was crossing the same runway. The smaller aircraft had actually been cleared to cross the runway as it headed toward a hangar.
The Air Canada flight took off without incident, but the near-miss triggered an investigation by the Transportation Safety Board.
“We never want two aircraft on the same runway when someone’s on a takeoff run,” said Gerrit Vermeer, who is investigating the incident for the TSB, classifying the case as medium risk. “It shouldn’t happen.”
So-called runway incursions — incidents involving any vehicle or person in the path of an aircraft landing or taking off — have been flagged by the TSB as serious risks.
“Given the millions of takeoffs and landings each year, incursions are rare, but their consequences can be catastrophic,” the watchdog warns in its latest watch list for transportation safety risks.
The TSB believes these incidents occur too often in Canadian airports, with 2,041 cases reported from 2011 to 2015. Twenty-seven of them were considered serious, which means a collision was narrowly avoided or there was significant potential for a crash.
The TSB says these incidents will continue to remain on its watch list until airports reduce the number of these incidents and adopt new technology to mitigate the risks.
The watchdog says in its watch list report “few technological defences to alert flight crews and vehicle operators of runway conflicts have been considered or implemented in Canada.
“More leadership is required from Transport Canada, NAV CANADA, airport authorities, and industry to ensure they are making full use of technologies to maintain runway safety.”
The TSB found inadequate training was among the factors that led to a 2014 incident at the Calgary airport.
An Air Georgian aircraft was being taxied by company maintenance crews to a holding bay, having received initial instructions by the tower controller, when it crossed an active runway.
The other aircraft was already airborne, but the TSB launched an investigation, which also found the controller didn’t have a clear enough picture of where the Air Georgian plane was heading.
As a result of the investigation, the Calgary airport increased training requirements for crews that taxi or tow aircraft. It also required more vehicles to have transponders, devices that receive radio signals.
The airport said in a statement Thursday it has taken other steps to improve safety, including more signs and increased visibility of painted lines.
Posted by Kathryn on 8:17:00 PM