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Inadequate training and non-use of transponder led to runway incursion at Calgary Airport
29 April 2015
Calgary International Airport diagram and taxi routes (Source: NAV CANADA, Canada Air Pilot, with TSB annotations)

Calgary International Airport diagram and taxi routes (Source: NAV CANADA, Canada Air Pilot, with TSB annotations)

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) released its report into a runway incursion incident at the Calgary International Airport, when a Beech 1900 was taxied across an active runway where a Boeing 737 was departing.

On 29 March 2014, during the hours of darkness, an Air Georgian Beechcraft 1900D turboprop aircraft was being taxied to a holding bay adjacent to runway 29 at Calgary International Airport, Canada, by company aircraft maintenance staff to perform engine performance checks. An air traffic controller issued instructions for taxiing north from the company facility to the holding bay. The maintenance staff mistakenly taxied the aircraft to an area southwest of the maintenance facility. A runway incursion occurred when the aircraft entered the south end of an active runway (runway 17R). A departing Boeing 737 was already airborne when the Beech 1900D entered the runway.

The investigation found that the training received by the Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (AME) was inadequate for the operation of an aircraft at a large airport at night. This resulted in the AME not correctly following the taxi instruction, resulting in the runway incursion. The investigation also found that the ground controller did not assign a transponder code as per air traffic control procedures. A transponder code allows aircraft to be positively identified on the ground radar display, giving the controller on duty situational awareness of where the aircraft is taxiing. Additionally, the investigation revealed that the airport does not require positive control over vehicles operating on a taxiway, except during reduced/low visibility operations. This, combined with the unidentified target seen on the ground radar display as a result of the lack of a transponder code, led to the controller making an incorrect assumption that this aircraft was a vehicle operating south of the company facility.

Following the occurrence, the Calgary Airport Authority required AMEs to be trained for and to hold airside vehicle operator permits allowing them to tow and taxi aircraft around the airport. All vehicles operating on a taxiway now require transponders so that air traffic control can identify them. Air Georgian revised its procedures for taxiing and towing aircraft around airports and improved training for its maintenance staff.

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