Thursday, July 31, 2014

Several factors led to a risk of collision for an aircraft landing at Toronto's Lester B. Pearson Airport in March 2013

Several factors led to a risk of collision for an aircraft landing at Toronto's Lester B. Pearson Airport in March 2013

Toronto, Ontario, 30 July 2014 – In its investigation report (A13O0045) released today, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) determined that a number of factors contributed to an unattended maintenance van crossing the active runway while an aircraft was landing at the Toronto/Lester B. Pearson International Airport on 11 March 2013. There were no injuries.

A Sunwing Airlines aircraft maintenance technician was in a van parked near the nose of one of the company’s aircraft. The technician exited the van to perform various duties outside the aircraft and then boarded it to check the cockpit. Meanwhile, the van had rolled to and crossed the active arrival runway as an aircraft prepared to land. Air traffic control noticed a ground radar target as the driverless van crossed the runway, and instructed the Air Canada Embraer 190 to pull up and go around. Despite two calls to go around, the Air Canada flight continued its approach, flew over the van at a height of approximately 35 feet and landed.

The investigation found that the van rolled across the active arrival runway because it was left unattended with the engine running and the drive gear engaged. The first air traffic control instruction to the Embraer’s flight crew to go around was masked by the sound of the ground proximity warning system in the cockpit, and therefore not heard by the flight crew. The second go-around instruction went unnoticed by the flight crew because it was truncated and the crew did not hear the aircraft call sign. Without supporting visual cues, the crew did not interpret the second call as applying to them.

Following the occurrence, the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) issued directives to the Toronto Pearson aviation community reiterating the prohibition against leaving vehicles idling and unsecured on the airside. The GTAA also published and disseminated information on the luminosity requirements for vehicle roof beacons and did spot checks to inspect beacons and require inoperative or inadequate beacons to be repaired or replaced. Sunwing Airlines reported to Transport Canada that it has inspected all of its airside vehicles and ensured that their roof beacons meet specified luminosity standards.

Risk of collisions on runways is a TSB Watchlist issue. Watch the video!

The TSB is an independent agency that investigates marine, pipeline, railway and aviation transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.