An investigation by the Swiss Accident Investigation Board revealed that a serious incident at Bern-Belp Airport resulted in a high risk of collision between a Dornier 328 taking off from the main runway and a departing helicopter.
On 2 June 2012 the pilot of a Robinson R44 helicopter, HB-ZSA, reported at 10:21:54 UTC to Bern-Belp aerodrome control that he was ready for take-off on helipad 1 and requested an ‘around the tower’ departure. Air traffic control then immediately gave an instruction to take off under the pilot’s own responsibility via taxiway Kilo ‘around the tower’ in the direction of departure point Hotel.
Approximately one minute later, at 10:23:26 UTC, the crew of a SkyWork Airlines Dornier 328-100 aircraft, flight SRK700, received take-off clearance after they had backtracked to the take-off point behind a preceding departure from runway 32.
The take-off of the helicopter took place along taxiway Kilo. A Helvetic Airways Fokker 100 was waiting at the Charlie intersection. The helicopter turned right, flew around the Fokker 100 to the north-east and then turned back onto the original departure axis. This resulted in a flight path converging with the centre line of runway 32. A hazardous convergence with SRK700, taking off on runway 32, occurred, with a high risk of collision.
Before aerodrome control could give an avoidance instruction to the pilot of HB-ZSA, the latter had already turned away to the right.
The lateral distance between the two aircraft at the closest point of approach at approximately the same altitude was determined with the help of estimates to be approximately 80 to 100 metres.
The serious incident is attributable to the fact that aerodrome control gave take-off clearance to a commercial aircraft on runway 32 without ascertaining the position of the helicopter which the controller had cleared to depart at its own discretion shortly before. The result was that a hazardous convergence with a high risk of collision occurred between these aircraft.
The following factors contributed to the occurrence of the serious incident:
– The absence of a defined final approach and take-off area (FATO) for helicopter operations.
– The absence of specified departure routes to departure points HE, H and HW.
- Final Report No. 2202 (PDF)