United Kingdom

Three jets landing at Birmingham Airport 'narrowly missed' a 7ft stepladder that was left on runway

Three planes carrying hundreds of passengers narrowly avoided disaster when they missed colliding with a stepladder which fell from a maintenance truck onto a runway.

Two workers at Birmingham Airport were making checks on the runway's approach lights at about 9.30pm on September 8 last year.

But as they drove back to the depot a bungee cord securing the bright yellow ladder, measuring about 7ft, in the back of their truck failed and it fell onto the dark runway.

Flight crews on board the first two aircraft to land, both Boeing 737s and operated by Ryanair and Jet2.com respectively, reported a possible unusual object on the runway.

The bright yellow ladder fell from a maintenance truck at Birmingham Airport and narrowly missed three flights coming into land

The three flights had more than 400 people aboard when they landed at Birmingham Airport (stock picture)

But the crew aboard a Tui Airways Boeing 757 plane confirmed they could see the bright yellow obstacle.

The three planes had a total of 426 passengers and crew aboard.

The stepladder was lying flat on the runway for 37 minutes before it was retrieved by the airport safety team.

An investigation by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) described a bungee cord used by the maintenance crews to hold the ladder in place was 'not suitable'.

The report said: 'Had the ladder been struck by the main or nose landing gear directly on touchdown, it is likely this would cause the break-up of the ladder with a high risk of explosive tyre burst.

The obstacle was secured in place in the back of the maintenance truck with a blue bungee cord 

'This would probably have resulted in high energy fragments hitting the aircraft, thus damaging the airframe or exposed vulnerable hydraulic and electrical components in the landing gear bays.

'A nose landing gear impact would introduce the additional risk of a nose gear collapse and the ingestion of debris into an engine.'

The ladder remained in the touch down zone for aircraft and just eight inches to the right of the centre line of the runway for 37 minutes before being retrieved by a safety team.

The runway was closed for 19 minutes as security checks were carried out and a fourth plane was ordered to hold.

CCTV showed the maintenance truck at Birmingham Airport last September

A number of safety revisions were suggested by the AAIB.

A spokesman for the airport said: 'The vast majority of these plans have now been actioned, which include the revision of procedures, issuing of specific control measures and practical assessments.

'We have also focussed on training and harmonisation of working practices, involving and engaging with employees across the operation to empower and embed the changes.

'We are extremely grateful to the AAIB for their comprehensive report and we stress that Birmingham Airport is committed to providing a safe and secure environment for all who use the facility.'

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