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A320, London Heathrow UK, 2006

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Summary
On 26 June 2006, after an uneventful pre-flight pushback of a British Airways Airbus A320-200 at London Heathrow Airport, the aircraft started moving under its own power and, shortly afterwards, collided with the tractor that had just performed the pushback, damaging both the right engine and the tractor.
Event Details
When June 2006
Actual or Potential
Event Type
GND, HF
Day/Night Day
Flight Conditions On Ground - Normal Visibility
Flight Details
Aircraft AIRBUS A-320
Operator British Airways
Domicile United Kingdom
Type of Flight Public Transport (Passenger)
Origin London Heathrow Airport
Intended Destination Munich Airport
Flight Phase Taxi
TXI
Location - Airport
Airport London Heathrow Airport
HF
Tag(s) Distraction
Ineffective Monitoring
Flight Crew / Ground Crew Co-operation
Procedural non compliance
GND
Tag(s) Taxiway collision
Aircraft / Vehicle conflict
Outcome
Damage or injury Yes
Aircraft damage Minor
Non-aircraft damage Yes
Causal Factor Group(s)
Group(s) Aircraft Operation
Airport Operation
Safety Recommendation(s)
Group(s) None Made
Investigation Type
Type Independent

Description

On 26 June 2006, after an uneventful pre flight pushback of a British Airways Airbus A320-200 at London Heathrow Airport using a towbarless tractor, that unit was disconnected from the aircraft. After receiving taxi clearance from ATC, the aircraft started moving under its own power and, shortly afterwards, collided with the tractor that had just performed the pushback, damaging both the right engine and the tractor. The headset operator had given the ‘all clear’ signal to the flight crew before the tractor had been repositioned to a safe distance from the aircraft. The co-pilot did not see the tractor and a defect was found to have prevented the tractor from being driven away before the aircraft began to taxi.

Investigation Findings

An Annex 13 Serious Incident Investigation was carried out by the UK AAIB and their Report was published in May 2007. It was concluded that “The primary causal factor of the accident was the headset operator giving the ‘all clear’ signal to the flight crew before the tractor had been repositioned to a safe distance from the aircraft. Contributory factors were the co-pilot failing to see the tractor and a defect which prevented the tractor from being driven away once the aircraft had begun to taxi. In the light of safety actions taken by the aircraft operator, no AAIB Safety Recommendations were deemed necessary.

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Further Reading