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Report: runway incursion and near collision after patrol vehicle enters runway (NZ)
24 December 2010

The New Zealand Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) published the final  report of their investigation into a serious runway incursion accident at Dunedin, 25 May 2010. A patrol vehicle had entered the runway at night and almost collided with a landing Metro III cargo plane.

The Swearingen Metro III plane operated on a night time cargo flight from Christchurch International Airport (CHC/NZCH) to Dunedin International Airport (DUD/NZDN). The usual arrival time at Dunedin was between 0200 and0300, but the flight was delayed that night. The Dunedin control tower was unattended and was not scheduled to beoperational until 06:30.

At approximately 06:00 the first officer of the Metro plane transmitted on the local Dunedin control tower frequency of 120.7 megahertz that “Post 91” was 10 nautical miles out and inbound for an ILS approach to runway 21. At about 06:06, he reported that Post 91 was on final approach.

After  touchdown the crew selected reverse thrust. At about that time they saw some flashing vehicle lights to their right. After the pilots had turned the aeroplane around the first officer advised they were back-tracking on runway 21. As they began taxiing to the terminal the night security agent advised them on the local radio frequency that an Avsec vehicle had been on the runway without a clearance when they landed.

The driver of the vehicle had intended to use the runway as a means of conducting an airfield perimeter fence check because recent heavy rain had flooded parts of the dirt perimeter road and the grassed areas from which such checks were normally accomplished.

The driver was unaware that an aeroplane had just landed when he drove onto the runway. Likewise, the pilots were unaware that a patrol vehicle had entered the runway after they landed, and they would have been in no position to take avoiding action to prevent a collision had the vehicle been driven in front of their aeroplane.

The main issues that led to the incident were a lack of awareness by aviation security officers of the significance of the runway lights being on, and inadequate local procedures for aviation security officers to access the runway safely outside the hours of service of air traffic control (ATC). Actions taken by the Aviation Security Service (Avsec) since the incident to improve the training of aviation security officers and procedures should help prevent a recurrence.
Therefore, the Commission did not make any recommendation as a result of this inquiry.


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