September 3, 2010
A British Airways Boeing 777 had a narrow escape after taking off from a runway that was too short for that type of aircraft, an air accident report concluded.
The BA crew mistook one taxiway for another in the "serious incident" which happened at the Robert L Bradshaw Airport at St Kitts in the Caribbean on September 26 last year.
The plane, with 87 passengers on board, was left with 1220 metres of take-off room, 695 metres less than if it left from the correct intersection.
BA’s airport duty manager and station engineer who were both travelling in row 10 realised that the aircraft was "going to take off from the wrong intersection."
The station engineer left his seat to point out the error to the flight crew but realising that the take-off run had started sat down again in row four.
In the event the plane took off safely on its flight to the Caribbean island of Antigua.
The Air Accidents Investigation Board said that that the 39-year old co-pilot said that after the aircraft became airborne he saw the end of the runways under the plan’s nose.
"At this time he realised that something was not right and realised that, although the aircraft was airborne, the end of the runway was closer than normal," the AAIB report said.
The co-pilot said that the shortest runway he had operated a 777 on was around 2000 metres. It was the first time either the pilot or co-pilot had operated out of St Kitts.
The AAIB identified a number of contributory factors:
-- The airport authority had not installed any taxiway or holding points signs on the airfield.
-- The crew did not brief the taxi routing.
-- The crew misidentified Taxiway Bravo for Taxiway Alpha and departed from Intersection Bravo.
-- The trainee air traffic controller did not inform the flight crew that they were at Intersection Bravo.
-- BA had not carried out a physical survey of the airfield.
The AAIB recommended that BA review the process by which all new destination airfields are inspected to identify any operational issues.