On 17 April 2014 at about 1705 Eastern Standard Time, the crew of a Bombardier DHC-8, registered VH-QOP, were taxiing at Gladstone Airport, Queensland, for a scheduled passenger service to Sydney, New South Wales. There were heavy showers in the vicinity of the airport at the time.
The crew reported taxiing for runway 10, which was soon followed by a report from the crew of an ATR-72 that they were 5 NM from Gladstone, on final approach to runway 10. Noting the position of the ATR-72, the crew of VH-QOP elected to taxi in a westerly direction along taxiway A (parallel to the runway), planning to enter the runway via taxiway A1 after the ATR-72 had landed. The crew were not particularly familiar with Gladstone Airport, and even less familiar with taxiway A and A1. The crew commented that, subject to traffic conditions, it was more common to enter the runway using other taxiways leading directly from the terminal area.
As they taxied, the crew contemplated switching to runway 28 for departure because weather surrounding the airport appeared to be less intense to the west. The crew discussed departure options and reviewed aircraft performance information as they taxied. At the same time, they remained mindful of the ATR-72 on final approach to runway 10.
The crew of VH-QOP made a right turn from taxiway A onto taxiway A1 as the ATR-72 was on late final approach. As they entered taxiway A1, the crew inadvertently continued over the holding point line before coming to a stop. The main wheels of the aircraft were just beyond the holding point line as the ATR-72 landed. Although the crew of VH-QOP stopped well short of the runway surface and were aware of the ATR-72 on final approach, the incident still falls within the definition of a runway incursion given the ‘incorrect presence’ of the aircraft within the runway flight strip as another aircraft was landing.
This incident highlights the importance of careful attention to airfield markings during ground manoeuvring, especially when crew workload is elevated, and when a crew is unfamiliar with the airport layout. This message applies equally to all airside vehicle operators.