Etihad A320 runway lights strike: GCAA downgrades incident severity

Final report concludes incident was less severe than originally decided
Etihad A320, Airbus A320, Calicut International Airport
File image.

The UAE’s aviation regulator has reclassified an incident involving an Etihad Airways A320 which experienced a temporary runway excursion and struck five runway edge landing lights at Calicut International Airport.

The incident, which took place on 20 June 2019, was initially classified as a ‘serious incident’ but the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) said in its final report, published last week, that it has reviewed its decision.

Flight EY-250 was travelling from Abu Dhabi to India with 124 people on-board when it attempted to land for a second time in heavy rain and drifted off the runway’s centreline, after which its landing gear hit five lights, damaging two tires.  

In its final report, the GCAA said: “The occurrence was classified as a 'serious incident' after the initial investigation phase. However, the occurrence was then re-classified to an ‘incident’ based on the severity.”

According to the report, the pilot flying’s situational awareness was reportedly “adversely affected by his expectation that the aircraft would remain aligned with the centerline until touchdown, since the aircraft was aligned when he overflew the centerline at the threshold.”

The co-pilot failed to intervene and attract the commander’s attention despite being aware that the plane shifted from the runway centreline, the report concluded.

The GCAA made a series of recommendations to both Etihad Airways and Calicut airport in its report, including a recommendation for flight crew training to place a particular emphasis on the need for assertiveness of callouts to be made by the pilot monitoring, particularly when there is any deviation from flight parameters.

The report also stated that the runway was not equipped with centerline lighting in what were challenging prevailing weather conditions. Etihad highlighted its concern to Calicut Airport Authority regarding the airport infrastructure limitations, which were identified as being contributory to the incident.

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