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Pilot and ground staff engage in blame game over VIA accident

24 October 2018, MVT 13:56
Pilot and ground staff have blamed each other the accident between a taxiing Air Asia aeroplane and a parked Qatar Airways Aircraft which occurred at Velana International Airport (VIA) on July 7. PHOTO: MIHAARU
24 October 2018, MVT 13:56

Pilot and ground staff have blamed each other the accident between a taxiing Air Asia aeroplane and a parked Qatar Airways Aircraft which occurred at Velana International Airport (VIA) on July 7.

The preliminary report published by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) revealed that the pilot of the Air Asia flight had attributed the accident, in which both aircrafts suffered damages, to mistakes made by marshalls. In the report, the marshalls stated that the pilot failed to follow signals.

According to the press release signed and released by the chairman of the Accident Investigation Coordination Committee, Abdul Razzaq Idrees, pilots and marshals of both airlines were interviewed prior to compiling the document.

In addition, some video footage and recordings from the black box of the Air Asia plane were also analyzed for the report.

The incident which occurred at 9:30 a.m last July resulted in the stabiliser of the Airbus A350-900 of Qatar Airways being dented by 18 inches, while the wing of A330-300 of Air Asia was dented by 3 inches.

Airport Ground Staff

The aircraft marshaller asserted that although he had arrived only 10 minutes prior to the landing of the Air Asia plane, he did carry out a thorough examination to ascertain whether there was adequate space to park, before giving instructions to land.

According to the marshaller, he signalled the pilot to make a left turn as soon as the flight entered the taxiway. He states that the pilot delayed the turn until the plane had progressed too far along the taxiway.

An illustration depicting the runway path taken by A330 - 300 aeroplanes, as they enter Velana Airport post landing. IMAGE: MIHAARU

The wing walker supported the statement, adding that he gave out a halt signal immediately after noticing that the plane flight had entered too far into the taxiway, without making the instructed turn. As a precaution, the wing walker also signalled the marshaller who reiterated it to the pilot.

The airport ground staff stated that the plane progressed 10 feet further despite their directions, maintaining that the accident would not have occurred had the pilot followed their instructions.

Pilot’s defence

The pilot of the Air Asia plane stated that air traffic control had ordered him to park with the assistance of the aircraft marshallers, who were present within his range of sight, as soon as the plane entered the taxiway.

He highlighted that assistance from aircraft marshallers was necessary due to numerous aircrafts being accommodated in a comparatively small area, even with a five-year history of making landings at VIA. He stated that safe landings could be carried out with effective assistance from marshallers.

Image depicting pilots line of sight from the cockpit. IMAGE: MIHAARU

According to the pilot, the accident occurred when the plane was taxiing toward the parking apron in accordance to signals from the marshallers. The first officer was monitoring the right wing. The pilot stated that he immediately stopped the plane following the collision.

The Air Asia pilot stated that the wing worker only signalled to halt after their plane had collided with the parked Qatar Airways flight. In response, the Qatar Airways pilot guaranteed that his plane, which was undergoing preparation for take-off was parked in accordance to regulations.

Air Asia’s Black-Box

Recordings reveal that the pilot and co-pilot remained in contact throughout the landing.

According to the report, the co-pilot had remarked, “Oh, I think we’ve hit the wing” at the time incident occurred. The pilot then asked his co-pilot whether the ground crew were providing the correct signals.

The co-pilot responded by saying that he had seen the clearance signal, indicating that he either did not see any signal to halt the plane or that the marshaller hadn't issued a halt signal.

Security footage and Flight data recorder

However, according to security footage compiled from various angles and cameras, there is no documentation of the ground crew sending or failing to send a halt signal.

Although Maldives has access to Air Asia’s flight data recordings, there is no technology in the Maldives capable of analysing the data.

As a result, the preliminary report published by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) does not state the investigative team’s final decision.

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