Safety investigation completed on two serious incidents that occurred at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport on 23 and 24 January 2018 – safety recommendations issued to improve flight safety

Published 17.10.2018

The Safety Investigation Authority, Finland has completed a safety investigation on the serious incidents that took place at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport on 23 and 24 January 2018. The incidents did not result in any injuries to persons or damage to property or the environment. Safety investigation on serious incidents is done to improve the safety of aviation and to prevent incidents and accidents.

In the first incident, on 23 January 2018, the Air Traffic Control (ATC) cleared a business jet to take off from a runway on and around which three runway maintenance vehicles were working. Two tractors and one brush blower were clearing snow off of runway and taxiway lights.

In the second incident, on 24 January 2018, a business jet inadvertently taxied onto an active runway for which an airliner on approach was on short final. The ATC noticed the runway incursion from the ground control radar display and ordered the aircraft to stop immediately. In addition, the ATC ordered the approaching airliner to go around.

The Safety Investigation Authority issues three safety recommendations to improve safety and to prevent damage

The Safety Investigation Authority recommends that Finavia and ANS Finland handle future violations of the Memorandum of Understanding signed between aerodrome maintenance and the ATC as defects. By doing so they will be properly analysed. In the first incident, which occurred on 23 January 2018, the Memorandum of Understanding for aerodrome maintenance was not followed. Proper anticipation of maintenance operations would have improved safety by reducing sudden distractions in air traffic controlling.

Second, the Safety Investigation Authority recommends that ANS Finland and Finavia improve the ATC system’s touch screen displays in such a manner that aircraft and land vehicles are clearly distinguishable from each other. In the first incident, which occurred on 23 January 2018, the vehicle strips on the air traffic controller’s e-Strip display were not clearly distinguishable from the strips indicating aircraft and runways.

In addition, the Safety Investigation Authority recommends that The Finnish Transport Safety Agency, when conducting inspections of operators, ensure that the operators’ taxiing procedures take into account that flight crews continuously maintain sufficient situational awareness. In the second incident, which occurred on 24 January 2018, the flight crew of the aircraft was concentrating on the before take-off checklist during taxiing, rather than paying sufficient attention to where their aircraft was going.

Investigation report (pdf, 2.11 Mt)

More information:
Veli-Pekka Nurmi, Executive Director, tel. +358 295 150 701
Ismo Aaltonen, Chief Air Safety Investigator, tel. +358 295 150 703