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Runway incursion results in airport safety improvements

Enhanced safety actions will help reduce risks for aircraft and ambulance operators at Blackall Airport in Queensland.

Blaclkall Aiport, Queensland

This follows a runway incursion involving an aeromedical Hawker Beechcraft B200 aircraft and an ambulance on the night of 28 February 2016.

At about 2.30 am the plane was descending to Blackall Airport with a pilot, a doctor and a nurse on board.

Earlier, at about 2.20 am, an ambulance driver was dispatched to Blackall Airport by the ambulance coordination centre to meet the aircraft for patient transportation. The ambulance driver was the only occupant of the vehicle.

A series of events involving missed communication and sighting between the ambulance and the aircraft resulted in the Beechcraft B200 initiating a missed approach.

The pilot climbed and entered a hold pattern about 5,000ft above the airport before descending and landing without incident.

As a result of this occurrence, the aircraft and ambulance operators have advised the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) of a range of safety actions to be implemented.

For the aircraft operator, runway strip inspections will continue for night operations at all aerodromes with known or suspected animal hazards and where appropriate ground personnel can safely conduct inspections.

Formal procedures will be developed in conjunction with the ambulance operator detailing safety procedures for those rural/regional stations where a request for a runway inspection is likely.

Appropriate procedures will be developed for requesting airstrip inspections for incorporation in the airstrip data manual.

And there will be closer safety liaison between the respective ambulance and operator safety departments.

The ambulance operator has advised the ATSB that staff working at Blackall Airport will attend the airport operator induction program.

Consultative arrangements with occur with key stakeholders and there will be a review of local UHF/VHF radio communications procedures between the operation centre, aircraft operator, airport operator, and ambulance attending the airport.

In addition, there will be a review of induction programs for staff in consultation with the aircraft operator and the airport. All new and existing staff will participate in a revised induction program. Induction workbooks will be reviewed and all new and existing staff will be provided with a copy of the workbook.

A review of the Blackall standard operating procedures will be conducted to ensure that procedures cover all aviation safety requirements.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has identified runway safety as one of its priorities and has been working with countries and aviation organisations globally to reduce runway safety accidents. ICAO has a runway safety website and has published a Manual on the prevention of runway incursions (Doc 9870 AN/463), available on the website.

Additional information on runway safety is available from Airservices Australia, including The airside drivers guide to runway safety.

Read the ATSB investigation report AO-2016-021

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Last update 20 October 2016