Heathrow crash prompts safety reviews

Hotel News - 09/04/2010

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Accident investigators have warned Heathrow Airport to improve the clarity of manoeuvre directions given to pilots after a runway crash left hundreds stranded.

Following a runway accident that left two wide-body jumbo jets grounded and forced hundreds of passengers to change to alternative aircraft, a report into the incident has concluded that Heathrow Airport needs to improve the manoeuvre warnings it gives pilots.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) found that a catalogue of errors led to a collision between a SriLankan Airlines Airbus A340 and a British Airways Boeing 747.

The crew of the Airbus incorrectly thought it had received clearance from air-traffic control to taxi to a holding point.

While manoeuvring, poor visibility and a lack of experience led the SriLankan Airlines crew to misjudge the distance between its aircraft and the British Airways jet on another taxiway, resulting in damage to both planes.

None of the 614 passengers on the jets was injured but all were forced to change to other planes, which later flew them to their destinations.

In a review of past AAIB reports, the safety body found nine previous collisions between aircraft taxiing at Heathrow since 1975. The AAIB said Heathrow should provide clearer warnings to the crew of taxiing aircraft that clearance between aircraft was not always assured.

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