Jet nearly hit mower at runway, report finds

 

AN AIRCRAFT with more than 200 people on board was involved in a serious incident at Dublin airport in May when its wing passed over a tractor lawnmower moving along the runway, with the driver oblivious to the landing jet.

The crew of the Canadian-registered Boeing 757-200, a Thomson Airways flight from the Sharm-el-Sheikh resort in Egypt, spotted the lawnmower as the aircraft landed on May 29th.

An initial report carried out by the Air Accident Investigation Unit of the Department of Transport was published yesterday.

Just after the aircraft landed at 1.53am, the flight crew reported they had seen ground equipment “right at the runway lights at the edge lighting here”.

“The flight crew elaborated that what they had seen was a lone tractor lawnmower,” the report said.

The incident investigator established that a “small ride-on grass mower was moving eastwards along RWY [runway] 10 a number of metres inside the runway-edge lighting at the time that the aircraft landed.” The air unit’s report continued: “The driver of the mower was unaware that an aircraft was landing and he did not see the aircraft before it passed his vehicle. It is probable that the starboard wing of the Boeing 757 passed over the ride-on mower during the landing roll.”

A spokeswoman for the Irish Aviation Authority said it had been indicated to air traffic controllers on the night by those involved in the grass-cutting that the three vehicles involved in the operation were clear of the runway.

Because of the poor visibility, the controllers were not in a position to see the vehicles on the runway for themselves, she said.

However, other sources indicated that those involved in the grass-cutting – a routine operation – may not have been aware an aircraft landing was imminent.

In its safety recommendations, the air accident unit said Dublin Airport Authority should ensure that all vehicles required to operate on or near any active runways should have airband VHF radios capable of picking up ground control and control tower frequencies.