Hong Kong CAD issues final report on A340 attempted taxiway takeoff

Chart of runway 07L and taxiway A at Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department released the final investigation report into the serious incident involving an Airbus A340 that attempted to take off from a taxiway.

The serious incident occurred on November 27, 2010. The incident flight involved a Finnair Airbus A340-313X which operated on flight AY070 from Hong Kong-Chek Lap Kok International Airport (HKG/VHHH) to Helsinki-Vantaa Airport (HEL/EFHK).

The incident occurred at night time and in good visibility conditions. One of the runways was closed for maintenance.  The north runway (07L/25R) remained operational with runway 07L in use for both arrivals and departures.

Flight 070 was cleared by ATC to taxi on taxiway B westbound for departure on runway 07L. When the aircraft was approaching the western end of taxiway B, ATC cleared the aircraft for take-off on runway 07L. The aircraft took the normal right turn at the end of taxiway B towards runway 07L but then took a premature right turn onto taxiway A, a taxiway parallel to and in between the runway-in-use and taxiway B. With the help of the Advanced Surface Movement Guidance and Control System (A-SMGCS) provided in the Control Tower, ATC observed that the aircraft commenced take-off roll on taxiway A. On detecting the anomaly, ATC immediately instructed the pilot to stop rolling and the aircraft was stopped abeam Taxiway A5, approximately 1400 metres from the beginning (western end) of taxiway A.

The following causal factors were identified:

  1. A combination of sudden surge in cockpit workload and the difficulties experienced by both the Captain and the First Officer in stowing the EFB computers at a critical point of taxiing shortly before take-off had distracted their attention from the external environment that resulted in a momentary degradation of situation awareness.
  2. The SOP did not provide a sufficiently robust process for the verification of the departure runway before commencement of the take-off roll.
  3. The safety defence of having the First Officer and the Relief Pilot to support and monitor the Captain’s taxiing was not sufficiently effective as the Captain was the only person in the cockpit trained for ground taxi.
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