On Thursday, March 27 th 2014 an aircraft aborted a final approach to runway 36R, also known as Aalsmeerbaan, at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, because a previous aircraft had not yet vacated the runway. LVNL has reported this incident to the Dutch Safety Board and is conducting its own investigation.
A go-around or missed approach is a routine safety manoeuvre following a decision not to proceed with the approach or landing for any of a variety of reasons such as unstable approach, cabin not ready, runway occupied, landing clearance not received, etc. Standard go-around procedures are included in every airfield’s published approach instructions for pilots and the air traffic controller may need to provide additional instructions in order to maintain separation from other aircraft. A go-around may be initiated by either the aircraft crew or the air traffic controller.
At busy airports like Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, approaching aircraft are lined up as efficiently as possible, but always with a minimum separation of three nautical miles (about 5.5 kilometers). If an aircraft fails to vacate the runway quickly enough, the following aircraft may have to perform a go-around. The runway controller must determine the risk of a conflict with other aircraft as quickly as possible and may issue additional instructions. The approach controller then has to guide the missed-approach aircraft back into the sequence of flights for landing.
The primary responsibility of Air Traffic Control the Netherlands with respect to safety is ensuring the separation of aircraft from other aircraft and ground vehicles. Safety events that occur at Air Traffic Control the Netherlands are reported and investigated with the objective to learn and improve, and thus reduce the probability of similar incidents in the future. LVNL investigates all reported incidents in order to continuously improve safety.
In the morning of March 27 th the crew of a Boeing 737-800 (B738) initiated a missed approach because a Citation 650 had not yet vacated runway 36R. This situation arose because air traffic control (ATC) had planned for the Citation 650 to timely vacate runway 36R after landing and thus cleared the B738 for landing on the same runway. However, the Citation 650 did not vacate the runway as anticipated. The crew of the B738 noticed this, initiated a missed approach and climbed to the prescribed altitude. The B738 then executed a new approach for runway 36R and landed uneventfully.
Summary of investigation results
In the morning of Thursday, March 27th 2014 an aircraft, a Citation 650 (C650), lands on runway 36R, also known as Aalsmeerbaan, at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. After landing safely, the C650 is cleared to taxi to Schiphol –East leaving the runway at intersection E3. But this particular intersection is blocked by a tug approaching to cross runway 36R on his way to Schiphol-Center. The C650 notices that intersection E3 is blocked and slowly taxies to the next intersection E4. Both the pilot of the approaching Boeing 737-800 (B738) and air traffic control notice that the C650 has not yet left the runway. Air traffic control decides to warn the pilot that he is going to receive a clearance to land on runway 36R a little later than could be expected. Air traffic control also informs the B738 that the C650 has not yet vacated the runway and gives a conditional clearance to the B738. However, the Citation 650 did not vacate the runway as anticipated. The crew of the B738 noticed this, initiated a missed approach and climbed to the prescribed altitude of 1500 ft. The B738 then executed a new approach for runway 36R and landed uneventfully.
The investigation showed that there were a few relevant circumstances that contributed to the incident:
- While the C650 is approaching runway 36R the pilot of another aircraft approaching for runway 06, also known as Kaagbaan, does not respond to his clearance to land on that runway. Air traffic control is monitoring this situation closely to make sure that the aircraft lands properly and contacts his colleagues on approach to coordinate the situation.
- Air traffic control intended to clear the C650 to make a visual approach to runway 04. Also known as the Schiphol-Oostbaan. This plan needed to change because traffic was also landing on runway 06;
- The separation distance between the B738 and the C650 reduced rapidly because of the higher approaching speed of the B738;
- When air traffic control contacts the C650 to ask the pilot to rapidly vacate the runway, the air traffic control frequency was blocked by the frequency of the C650. As a result, no communication was possible for a short period of time;
- After giving the clearance to the pilot of the B738 to land on runway 36R, air traffic control used the wrong call sign.
Current rules and guidelines provide air traffic controllers sufficient opportunities to achieve a safe operation. Because of the extraordinary circumstances this occurrence will be used for training purposes.
Classification: serious incident