Runway incursion illustrates risks to safe operations when communications break down between airport

From: Transportation Safety Board of Canada

On 12 December 2018, the aircraft was on approach to the Trail Airport, having departed Vancouver International Airport. While the aircraft was preparing to land southbound, an airport vehicle was travelling northbound on the runway, performing a runway inspection. When the aircraft touched down, the airport vehicle was still on the runway. The airport vehicle exited the runway onto the taxiway before the aircraft reached the taxiway intersection, avoiding a collision. Radio communications had not been established between the aircraft and the airport vehicle. No injuries were reported, and the aircraft was not damaged.

The investigation found that no radio functionality check was done before the airport vehicle operator entered the manoeuvering area of the airport, and the operator did not realize the volume had been turned down to a level that prevented effective communication. The airport vehicle operator did not broadcast the vehicle position or his intentions when changing locations on the runway, as required by Transport Canada’s Aerodrome Standards and Recommended Practices. Additionally, the sun was low over the horizon and reflected off the wet runway, creating a solar glare condition that diminished the flight crew’s ability to detect the airport vehicle on the runway.

The investigation also found that if proactive hazard identification and mitigation strategies are not implemented under an airport’s safety management system, the risk of incursions and collisions will remain. Further, if airport vehicles are not conspicuous, they may not be seen by aircrew, increasing the risk of potential collisions.

Following the occurrence, the Trail Airport created new procedures and modified existing procedures concerning communications during airport operations. Trail Airport updated the Apron Management Plan and the Airport Staff Training Manual, and installed additional radio equipment in airport vehicles. Airport staff were provided additional training and were tested on vehicle and communication procedures.

Safety management and risk of collision from runway incursions continue to be on the TSB Watchlist. The TSB is concerned that the rate of runway incursions in Canada and the associated risk of collision will remain until effective defences tailored to address previously identified hazards are implemented at airports and in aircraft, airport vehicles, and air traffic service facilities across Canada.

See the investigation page

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