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DH8C / Vehicle, Tamworth SE Australia, 2008

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Summary
On 7 February 2008, an ATC TWR at Tamworth cleared an Eastern Australia Bombardier DHC8-300 for take off having already cleared a bird scaring vehicle onto the same runway. The vehicle was still on the runway at the time of the take off clearance and as the flight crew could see the vehicle, they did not commence take off. The vehicle driver reported having been monitoring the TWR frequency and vacated the runway. The subsequent Investigation noted a record of good competency assessments for the controller involved and found no specific explanation for his lapse.
Event Details
When February 2008
Actual or Potential
Event Type
Human Factors, Runway Incursion
Day/Night Day
Flight Conditions On Ground - Normal Visibility
Flight Details
Aircraft BOMBARDIER Dash 8 Q300
Operator Eastern Australia Airlines
Domicile Australia
Type of Flight Public Transport (Passenger)
Origin Tamworth Airport
Intended Destination Sydney Airport
Take off Commenced No
Flight Airborne No
Flight Completed No
Flight Phase Standing
STD
Location - Airport
Airport Tamworth Airport
HF
Tag(s) ATC clearance error,
Distraction,
Fatigue,
Procedural non compliance
RI
Tag(s) ATC error,
Incursion pre Take off
Outcome
Damage or injury No
Causal Factor Group(s)
Group(s) Air Traffic Management
Safety Recommendation(s)
Group(s) None Made
Investigation Type
Type Independent

Description

On 7 February 2008, a Bombardier DHC8-300 being operated by Eastern Australia AL for Qantas on a scheduled passenger flight from Tamworth to Sydney was inadvertently cleared for take off from runway 30R whilst a bird scaring vehicle was already on the runway having previously received a valid clearance to that effect from the same controller. As the aircraft crew could see the vehicle, they did not commence take off.

Investigation

An Investigation was carried out by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB). It was found that there had been no actual risk of collision due to the awareness of the conflict by both the aircraft crew and the vehicle driver involved. It was noted that the bird scaring vehicle had been operating on the runway for about five minutes prior to the issue of the conflicting take off clearance.

The airport operations officer driving the bird scaring vehicle reported that he had been monitoring the TWR radio frequency and when he heard the take-off clearance being issued to the DHC8, he had advised the TWR that he would vacate the runway and had subsequently done so. The DHC8 flight crew had observed the vehicle on the runway and so did not commence the takeoff which was subsequently cancelled.

The airport operations officer driving the bird scaring vehicle reported that he had been monitoring the TWR radio frequency and when he heard the take-off clearance being issued to the DHC8, he had advised the TWR that he would vacate the runway and had subsequently done so. The DHC8 flight crew had observed the vehicle on the runway and so did not commence the takeoff which was subsequently cancelled.

The Investigation considered that whilst the incident controller was not necessarily unfit for duty, an examination of his recent work and rest schedule and sleep hours suggested that they “may not have been conducive to optimal alertness levels”. It was therefore possible that he was experiencing fatigue at the time of the occurrence which may have affected his normally high performance standards.

The Investigation formally concluded that “the aerodrome controller’s scan of the flight strip board and runway had not been effective” and noted that there was a possibility that he “may have been experiencing the effects of fatigue” given the relatively high level of radio transmissions in the period preceding the occurrence.

The Final Report Aviation Investigation AO-2008-006 of the Investigation was released on 20 August 2010. No Safety Recommendations were made.


Further Reading