Report: Serious runway confusion incident at Amsterdam-Schiphol Airport

The Dutch Safety Board published the final report of their investigation into a serious runway confusion incident at Amsterdam-Schiphol Airport involving a Boeing 737-300.

On February 10, 2010 KLM flight KL1369 was cleared for takeoff on runway 36C at Amsterdam-Schiphol International Airport (AMS/EHAM). Instead, the crew took off from the parallel taxiway B.

At the time of the incident, about 20:30,  it was dark and it was snowing. The airplane had just been de-iced and was instructed to taxy down taxiway Alpha towards runway 36C. This meant that the crew had to use taxiway Alpha in the opposite direction, contrary to published procedures. Air traffic control is allowed to use this taxiway in the opposite direction if deemed necessary. This is sometimes the case when an aircraft leaves the Juliet platform after de-icing, just like KL1369.

The crew were very familiar with the airport and did not use a taxiway map although they were supposed one. The air traffic controller then offered the flight to enter the runway through intersection W-8. At that time a preceding Boeing 747 had taxied the wrong way and  was blocking the taxiway. The KLM flight crew accepted the offer because this also meant an opportunity for an expedited takeoff.

At that point the crew started losing positional awareness. The workload increased because the an entry in the FMS now had to be changed because the crew had anticipated using  intersection W-9. Meanwhile the captain was distracted by radio communications between the air traffic controller and the pilot of the Boeing 747. The crew had to cross parallel taxiway Bravo to enter runway 36C. However, they turned directly onto Bravo and initiated their takeoff roll. The crew did not notice their error and continued their takeoff, passing within about 300 metres of a Boeing 737-400.

It appears that the taxiway leading from taxiway Bravo to runway 36C was covered with a thin layer of snow, possibly obscuring the taxiway lights. Also, visibility of the lights of runway 36C was degraded because the lighting pattern matched that of the lights along the highway parallel to the runway.

Taxi routes of KL1369 (blue) and the preceding Boeing 747, flight CAL5420 (yellow)

More information:

Final report (in Dutch)

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