On 29 March 2018 an incident has occurred at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. An aircraft aborted the final approach to runway 18C, also known as Zwanenburgbaan, while another aircraft just departed from runway 24 (Kaagbaan). LVNL has reported this occurrence to the Dutch Safety Board and is conducting its own investigation.
LVNL’s primary safety task is to maintain the separation of aircraft from one another, and also from vehicles and other obstacles when on the ground. Air traffic controllers internally report any incidents falling within our area of responsibility, with the aim of learning lessons from them and so reducing the chance that similar occurrences will take place again in the future. All reported incidents are investigated by LVNL, as part of our ongoing commitment to improving safety.
Description of situation
A Boeing 737 aircraft was approaching the Zwanenburgbaan runway and was informed about an aircraft that was taking off from the Kaagbaan runway. During the landing, it looked as though the B737 was going to stray outside its intended landing zone. The pilot therefore aborted the landing and effectuated a go-around. He reported this immediately to air traffic control, who were able to see the aircraft carrying out the go-around. In the meantime, the Boeing 738 aircraft on the Kaagbaan had started to move.
In response to the go-around, air traffic control initially wished to abort the take-off of the B738, but saw that the speed of the aircraft was by then already too great for this to be done safely. The B737 carrying out the go-around was therefore instructed to make a right-hand turn. The B738 taking off was instructed to make a left-hand turn after take-off. Both pilots carried out these instructions correctly. The pilot of the B738 also reported that he could see the go-around being carried out by the B737.
During this incident, the distance between the two aircraft was not less than 0.5 nautical miles horizontal (around one kilometre) and 300 feet vertical (around 100 metres).
Separation in the vicinity of an airport
Within the control zone (CTR) of an airport, visual separation may be used – this applies as long as the air traffic controllers are able to see both aircraft or both pilots are able to see each other.
Conclusions and follow-up action from the investigation
This incident has been investigated by LVNL together with the airlines involved in the context of the newly established Integral Safety Management System (ISMS). From this investigation, it appears that current regulations and methods deployed by air traffic controllers offer sufficient scope for them to be able to establish and maintain the distances between aircraft. Nonetheless, LVNL together with the ISMS parties is examining whether there are ways of further improving safety in relation to the use of runways for taking off and landing. Among other things attention is given to the risks to flights that could result from corrective action taken by air traffic controllers.
Classification: major incident