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Final Report

Summary

On 5 October 2016, at about 1600 Western Standard Time, a Boeing 717 (B717) aircraft, registered VH-NXN (NXN), was being operated by Cobham Aviation Services as QantasLink, on a scheduled passenger flight from Paraburdoo Airport to Perth, Western Australia. On board were the captain, first officer, three cabin crewmembers and 115 passengers.

As the aircraft commenced taxiing, the captain sighted a company B717 aircraft about to land on runway 06. The captain quickly assessed that due to limited apron space at Paraburdoo, they needed to taxi behind a Network Aviation Fokker F28 MK 0100 (F100) aircraft, registered VH-NHF (NHF), which was parked on Bay 1, to allow the inbound B717 room to pass and taxi to Bay 2, which they had just vacated.

An engineer for Network Aviation, who had been working on the F100, observed NXN taxiing and became concerned about the proximity of its left wingtip to the tail of the parked F100. The engineer checked the clearance between its wingtip and tail of the F100, and gave the captain the signal to indicate the aircraft was clear.  The captain assumed therefore that the aircraft was clear and continued taxiing around the back of the F100, and turned the aircraft sharply to the right to leave enough room for the inbound B717 to taxi past.

The engineer had expected NXN to taxi towards the runway rather than turning around the back of the F100. The engineer immediately assessed that the horizontal stabilisers of the two aircraft may collide, and tried to signal the captain to stop, but was near the wing of the aircraft and no longer in the captain’s sight. The engineer ran towards the front of the aircraft and waved to the captain to stop. The captain braked heavily but did not feel a collision. Some hours later, it was determined that the horizontal stabiliser of NXN had slid under that of NHF, scraping the surface, and both aircraft sustained minor damage. The passengers and crew of NXN were not injured and no one was on board NHF.

Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 56

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