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October 13, 2016

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Findings on airport near miss

MISTAKES by staff at the air traffic control tower at Hongqiao airport were to blame for the near miss on Tuesday, during which a China Eastern Airlines passenger aircraft taking off nearly hit another plane, the nation’s civil aviation regulator said yesterday.

The Airbus 320 Flight MU5643 to Tianjin was taking off around noon on Tuesday when an Airbus 330 that had just landed, also owned by China Eastern, began taxiing across the runway.

The A320 pilot opted to continue taking off as the speed of his aircraft had reached more than 240 kilometers per hour. His plane safely flew over the A330.

“A preliminary investigation has found it was a ‘runway invasion,’ safety incident caused by mistake of the air traffic controller on the control tower,” the Civil Aviation Administration of China said on its official website.

The administration had spoken to the pilots and the air traffic controller, as well as examining the communication record, radar record, cockpit voice recorder and flying data of both aircraft to conclude the initial result, it said on its official website. Further investigation was under way.

The A320 pilot had reacted properly, and the airline was waiting for the final investigation result from the administration, an official with China Eastern said yesterday. The local carrier said that “the crew followed the orders from the air traffic controller.”

According to a detailed operation record, the A320 moved out from the boarding bridge at 11:54am and entered 36L runway at 12:03am following orders from the air traffic control tower. The controller then gave permission to take off a minute later, and the aircraft began its maneuvering.

The A320 pilot spotted the A330 was about to taxi across the runway when his speed had reached about 200 kilometers per hour. The pilot consulted with air traffic control and decided the best course was to continue taking off. He triggered maximum acceleration and flew over the A330.


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