On Saturday 14 January 2017, a runway incursion occurred at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. This situation arose because a bird patrol vehicle entered the protected area of the Buitenveldertbaan, while an aircraft approached for landing. The bird patrol vehicle left the protected area and the aircraft landed safely. LVNL has reported this incident to the Dutch Safety Board and is conducting its own investigation.
The term 'runway incursion' refers to any occurrence at an aerodrome involving the incorrect presence of an aircraft, vehicle or person on the protected area of a surface designated for the landing and take-off of aircraft.
LVNL’s primary safety task is to maintain the separation of aircraft in the air, and between vehicles and other obstacles when on the ground. Air traffic controllers internally report any safety related occurrence, with the objective to learn lessons from those occurrences, thereby reducing the chance that similar occurrences will take place again in the future. All reported occurrences are investigated by LVNL, as part of LVNL’s ongoing commitment to improve safety.
At Schiphol, the Buitenveldertbaan and the Aalsmeerbaan physically cross each other. The airport vehicle - from Bird Control - was carrying out an inspection of the Aalsmeerbaan and accidentally drove into the protected zone of the Buitenveldertbaan. At the same time, a Fokker 70 aircraft was approaching the Buitenveldertbaan to land.
The driver of the Bird Control vehicle saw the landing Fokker and immediately drove away from the Buitenveldertbaan, back to the Aalsmeerbaan. This prevented a possible collision.
In accordance with the procedure, the air traffic control tower was in contact with the driver of the vehicle that was on the Aalsmeerbaan. It was agreed that the vehicle would leave the Aalsmeerbaan at the E5 exit. This location is before the runway crosses the Buitenveldertbaan. This agreement was confirmed by the driver.
The end of the Aalsmeerbaan is protected by a Displaced Runway End (DRE) (marked by red lights), to protect the Buitenveldertbaan from unauthorised access. If the runway is in use, the runway lighting and the DRE lights are on. At the moment the incident took place, the Aalsmeerbaan was not in use and therefore the lighting was not turned on. The end of the runway is also marked on the asphalt as a visual indication of the end of the runway.
Conclusion and follow up
The driver stated that the vehicle windows were misted up and there was also a trainee in the vehicle. He also stated that he realised too late that he had driven too far and immediately turned around when he saw the Fokker coming in to land.
As a follow up to the incident investigation, it has been agreed with the airport that the runway inspection of the Aalsmeerbaan will be carried out in the opposite direction, to prevent the end of the runway being unintentionally passed in the future. It is also being investigated whether it would be possible to turn on the DRE lighting as soon as the Buitenveldertbaan is in use.
Classification: serious incident
- Runway inspection
At Schiphol, at fixed times, runway inspections take place to scare away any birds that are present. In addition, any bird or other animal remains resulting from a collision with an aircraft are removed. General inspections also take place to check the condition of the runway and everything associated with it. This includes the lights, the condition of the asphalt and foreign objects on the runway.
Runway inspections are only carried out by a select group of vehicle drivers who have received extensive training to be able and be allowed to do this.