Runway collision avoided after pilot told to abort landing at Pearson Airport in Mississauga, report says


Published December 20, 2023 at 1:57 pm

Runway collision avoided after plane aborts landing at Pearson Airport in Mississauga.
A Transportation Safety Board of Canada report concluded that a runway collision between a plane (not the one shown in photo) and an airport maintenance vehicle was narrowly avoided at Pearson Airport in Mississauga in 2022. (Photo: Pearson Airport)

An attentive air traffic controller at Pearson Airport in Mississauga helped prevent an incoming Air Canada Boeing 737 from colliding with a maintenance vehicle on the runway, an investigation has revealed.

A report released today by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada reveals that an inattentive airport maintenance vehicle driver crossed into an active runway just as the large passenger aircraft was preparing to land moments after midnight on Oct. 15, 2022.

“At the time of the runway incursion, an Air Canada Boeing 737 was on final approach for the runway,” the TSB wrote in its report. “The air traffic controller, who was watching the approaching aircraft through the window of the control tower, observed the incursion as it was happening and instructed the crew of the aircraft to go around for another approach. The flight crew complied and the aircraft landed uneventfully following a second approach.”

In its report, the TSB notes that the driver of the Greater Toronto Airports Authority ground vehicle crossed into the plane’s path — known as a runway incursion — even though he “had received and read back an instruction to hold short of the runway.”

Furthermore, the independent safety agency’s investigation found that “the driver’s attention was split between his driving duties and the planning of the upcoming tasks that he would be supervising. As a result, he was paying less attention to monitoring the route for hazards. As well, because the driver had crossed the runway at the displaced threshold many times without stopping, the mental model he developed did not include stopping at the holding position, even though he read back the instruction to hold short.”

The GTAA, which operates Pearson Airport, has a series of Airport Traffic Directives under which vehicles using airport “maneuvering areas” is contrary to procedure, the TSB indicated.

However, the report added, “drivers normally used the airport maneuvering areas as opposed to the North Service Road because these areas are perceived to be quicker given typical runway operations on the east/west runways.”

The investigative report concluded that “given the driver’s split attention, the visual cues that were available to designate the holding position were not salient enough to alter his mental model and stop him from entering the runway.

“This occurrence illustrates how a lapse in attention by even an experienced airport maintenance vehicle driver can result in a runway incursion.”

The TSB is an independent agency that investigates air, marine, pipeline and rail transportation occurrences. Its aim is the advancement of transportation safety and it is not its role to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.

Map shows location on the runway where the ground vehicle found itself just after midnight on Oct. 15, 2022.

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