A potentially disastrous chain of events led to a Royal Flying Doctor Service plane missing the runway at a far north Queensland airport.
A potentially disastrous chain of events led to a Royal Flying Doctor Service plane missing the runway at a far north Queensland airport.

Bizarre reason medical plane missed its runway

A BIZARRE chain of events has led to a plane missing the runway at Cairns Airport.

A new investigation by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau has revealed a Royal Flying Doctor Service Beechcraft 200 aircraft was attempting to land after midnight on July 9 when a potentially disastrous set of circumstances unfolded.

The pilot, carrying a supervisor, flight nurse and two patients, misidentified night aerodrome works as his landing runway with the plane's tyre smashing into an unused runway light.

The report found that during the approach, the flight crew was disoriented by an airport safety officer's car with the headlights directed at "what appeared to be a row of lights across the runway, illuminating the displaced threshold."

Vision from the cockpit of an RFDS aircraft attempting a landing at Cairns Airport. The aircraft’s tyre struck an unseen temporary runway end light when landing at Cairns Airport at night, a new ATSB investigation details.
Vision from the cockpit of an RFDS aircraft attempting a landing at Cairns Airport. The aircraft’s tyre struck an unseen temporary runway end light when landing at Cairns Airport at night, a new ATSB investigation details.

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The aircraft then passed above the row of lights before striking the light. No-one was injured in the event.

"Aerodrome works can pose a hazard to aircraft, particularly where there are unusable portions of a runway and a displaced runway threshold," said Acting Director Transport Safety at ATSB, Kerri Hughes.

"Aerodrome works markings and lighting must be unambiguous and laid out in accordance with relevant standards, to minimise the likelihood of confusion for flight crew and the potential for a runway undershoot or excursion."

Following the incident, the Cairns Airport has implemented a number of safety actions for the remaining runway works, including ensuring vehicle headlights were not directed towards an active runway, and illuminating taxiway lights only after an aircraft had landed.

The Cairns Airport has been contacted for comment.

Originally published as Bizarre reason RFDS plane missed Qld runway



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