A serious accident was narrowly averted at Exeter Airport when a Flybe aircraft tried to take off on a runway that a Boeing 737 had just landed on, according to a report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB)
The crew of the Flybe Dash 8 aircraft were deemed to have been ‘distracted enough’ not to pay attention to the instructions from Air Traffic Control (ATC) and taxied onto the runway despite being told to wait at a holding position just nearby.
The AAIB declared that the tired crew of the Dash 8 were on their fourth out of five scheduled flights of the day when the incident happened.
The crew were also trying to play ‘catch up’ on their journey to Edinburgh as although their first flight had departed on time; all subsequent ones had run 15 minutes late.
The pilots had been discussing the first flight of the day and assumed their instructions would be the same, but realised that they were meant to wait at holding point alpha one when the commander spotted lights from what he assumed to be a car on the runway ahead. His co-pilot disagreed and stated he thought it to be an aircraft.
A collision was narrowly averted as the Boeing 737, flown by UK airline Astraeus, and carrying just 2 crew turned off the runway at an intersection and the Dash 8 was given clearance to take off.
The report added that the co-pilot was not monitoring his commander whilst he completed his take off checklist.
The crew continued with their flight to Edinburgh and then came back again to Exeter before finishing their shift, contrary to instructions in Flybe’s operations manual concerning the course of action to take following an accident or incident. The commander declared that he did not realise that the incident would be categorised as ‘serious’.