A Norwegian Air UK Boeing 787-9, registration G-CKWC performing flight DI-7505 from London Gatwick,EN (UK) to Buenos Aires,BA (Argentina) with 260 passengers and 10 crew, was preparing for departure when they noticed they were about to depart 5 minutes prior to the closure of the main runway 26L. Therefore the crew began to plan for a departure from the standby runway 26R. The aircraft taxied to holding point P1 for a departure from standby runway 26R and was given conditional line up clearance to line up behind a landing A320. The aircraft taxied via taxiway P and AN into position. After receiving takeoff clearance the tower controller noted that the aircraft did not begin to accelerate until passing the displaced landing threshold of the runway 417 meters down the runway, consequently the aircraft rotated and became airborne very late. The aircraft continued to Buenos Aires without further incident, the tower controller filed a report. 

The AAIB released their bulletin stating the crew confirmed there was “not much remaining at lift-off”.

The AAIB concluded:

The aircraft began its takeoff roll from the displaced threshold of Runway 26R rather than the beginning of the runway. The crew did not identify the beginning of the runway and instead taxied the aircraft forward to the landing threshold. A combination of an unusual straight-line runway entry, a perceived lack of lighting in the pre-threshold area and the bright threshold lights ahead contributed to the crew not identifying the beginning of the runway.

From the point at which the aircraft began its takeoff roll, its performance did not meet regulatory requirements for both stopping and continuing should an engine have failed close to V1. The risks in both cases were significant to the aircraft and its occupants.

The AAIB analysed:

The crew operating G-CKWC were familiar with Gatwick Airport but had operated from Runway 26R infrequently. They did not identify the beginning of the runway and taxied forward to the landing threshold before beginning their takeoff roll. This decreased the takeoff distance available and meant that the aircraft did not meet regulated takeoff performance requirements for its actual takeoff weight.

The distance available for the takeoff would have been insufficient (based on regulations) had an aircraft engine failed before V1 and had the crew decided to stop. The actual accelerate stop distance required was 2,564 m, whereas the airfield boundary is approximately 2,250 m from the point at which G-CWKC began its takeoff roll. Runway overrun is a type of runway excursion, which is one of the CAA’s ‘Significant Seven’ risks to commercial air transport. 

The distance available for takeoff was also insufficient to meet regulatory requirements for obstacle clearance should the aircraft have continued the takeoff after an engine failure at V1. 

This was not the first time that an aircraft had begun its takeoff roll from the landing threshold. Gatwick reports indicated there had been at least four incidents, involving multiple operators, between September 2017 and this incident involving G-CKWC. Failure of crews to identify the start of Runway 26R, especially at night, presents Gatwick with a potentially significant hazard to operations. The airport, aware of the risk, put in place several actions to improve the awareness of crews about the location of the beginning of the runway. They also committed to repainting the markings before the landing threshold.

The Aviation Herald


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