Study: Factors influencing misaligned take-off occurrences at night

ATSB pilot information card to help flight crew identify factors that could increase the risk of a misaligned take-off or landing.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) published a study into factors influencing misaligned take-off occurrences at night. This report examines both Australian as well as relevant international occurrences
where pilots have misperceived their lateral position on runway due to darkness and a combination of individual influences, runway, weather and task conditions.

The study was iniated following several occurrences that involved aircraft commencing takeoff on the runway edge lighting. All five recent Australian misaligned take-off and landing occurrences involved aircraft with weights greater than 5,700kg and three of the six occurrences involved scheduled regular passenger transport operations. The remaining two occurrences involved charter operations.

After reviewing the Australian and international occurrences, eight common factors were identified that increased the risk of a misaligned take-off or landing occurrence. The factors included:

  • distraction or divided attention of the flight crew;
  • confusing runway layout; displaced threshold or intersection departure;
  • poor visibility or weather; air traffic control clearance/s issued during runway entry;
  • no runway centreline lighting;
  • flight crew fatigue; and
  • recessed runway edge lighting

To foster safety awareness, knowledge and action, the ATSB developed a pilot information card to help flight crew identify factors that could increase the risk of a misaligned take-off or landing.

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