17 June 2014 - Incident during push back Amsterdam Airport Schiphol

Notification

On Tuesday 17 June 2014, an incident took place on the ground at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol in which a tug passed behind a departing aircraft after it had been cleared for pushback. LVNL is conducting its own investigation.

Supervision of ground vehicles

On an aerodrome, two different parties are responsible for supervising ground traffic. At Schiphol Airport specifically, LVNL oversees traffic in the movement area, including aircraft taxiing to or from runways and boarding gates, whilst the airport itself is responsible for ground vehicles and towage.

Incident investigation

LVNL’s primary safety task is to maintain the separation of aircraft from one another, and also from vehicles and other obstacles when on the ground. Air traffic controllers internally report any incidents falling within our area of responsibility, with the aim of learning lessons from them and so reducing the chance that similar occurrences will take place again in the future. All reported incidents are investigated by LVNL, as part of our ongoing commitment to improving safety.

Description

The driver of the tractor pushing back an Embraer 190 reported by radio that, after having received pushback clearance, a tug passed behind the aircraft. The pushback had already begun, so the Embraer 190 was returned to its parking position for checks to ensure that it had suffered no damage. Once these had been completed satisfactorily, the aircraft was able to depart without further incident.

Investigation

Air traffic controllers internally report any incidents falling within our area of responsibility, with the aim of learning lessons from them and so reducing the chance that similar occurrences will take place again in the future. All reported incidents are investigated by LVNL, as part of our ongoing commitment to improving safety. We examine various aspects of the incident, including its cause, its severity, the safety risk it poses and the likelihood that something similar might happen again. Once the results of the investigation are known, they are published in a dossier on the LVNL website. 

Investigation results

LVNL is investigating the incident during a pushback on Apron B at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. Below is a summary, with an illustrative animation and infographic.

Summary

An Embraer 190 (E190) ready for departure from parking position B53 was given pushback clearance by LVNL. At the same time the airport gave a tug permission to tow a Fokker 70 (F70) from position B63, via A2A, to A2. However, the airport was unable to hear that the E190 had received pushback clearance. Nor was LVNL aware of the movement of the F70. The E190 began reversing just as the tug started to tow the F70 behind it. Fortunately, the driver of the tractor conducting the pushback saw the tug passing and braked to avoid a conflict.

The E190 was returned to its parking position for checks to ensure that it had suffered no damage. Once these had been completed satisfactorily, the aircraft again requested and received pushback clearance. This time it was able to depart without further incident.

Classification: serious incident

Animation incident during push back 17 June 2014

Infographic incident during push back 17 June 2014

Infographic incident during push back 17 June 2014 (pdf-format)


Investigation follow-up

The number of movements of both aircraft and ground vehicles at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol increased massively in 2014. LVNL has appointed a working group to review the safety situation with regard to ground traffic and, based upon its findings, to make recommendations for the long-term development of ground operations in co-operation with the airport. This needs to be achieved in such a way that further increases in air traffic do not create bottlenecks on the ground which could affect flight safety and capacity.