The UAE General Civil Aviation Authority concluded that a loss of situation awareness by the crew caused an Etihad flight to initiate takeoff while aligned with the runway edge. The root cause of the loss of situation awareness was not determined.
The incident happened on 30 January 2012 to Etihad flight EY45. This was a scheduled service from Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) to Dublin Airport (DUB), Ireland with a planned departure time of 02:15 hours local time.
While onboard the aircraft, and after the flight preparation was completed, the flight crew noticed a deterioration in the weather as the fog had increased with runway visual range (RVR) at 200m.
Low visibility operations were in effect at the airport, which meant a delay in departure. At 03:18 pushback clearance was given by the controller.
At 03:31 the flight was cleared to taxi to Echo 15 CAT III holding point stop bar for a departure from runway 31L. As the Airbus A330-200 was taxiing towards the runway, the controller reported that the first one third RVR of runway 31L, was 175 m, the second third was 200 m and the last third of the runway was 175 m.
After the flight was cleared to line up, the captain stated “I can’t see.” and instructed the copilot: “Can you ask him to switch on the runway lights?” This was followed by a radio call from the tower controller, clearing the flight for takeoff. The copilot read back the clearance but did not request that the runway lights be turned on. The captain did not repeat his request to turn on the runway lights.
The copilot then commented, as if asking a question: “The centerline lights supposed to have more space than that [silence of two seconds] no?“. The captain then stated: “I see only two lights.”
Takeoff was commenced at 03:46, after the ‘before takeoff checklist’ was completed.
During takeoff there were 11 loud sounds and thumps, spaced approximately every two to three seconds coming from the nose of the aircraft. After the aircraft had reached 86 knots ground speed, the captain initiated a rejected takeoff and the aircraft came to a stop in 11 seconds. The aircraft had travelled approximately 775 m and stopped adjacent to the E14 taxiway intersection and the crew reported to the tower controller that the aircraft was stopped on the runway.
There was discussion in the cockpit and the captain realized that the aircraft was not on the runay 31L centerline. This was confirmed when the crew observed that the illuminated runway centerline lights were to the right of the aircraft.
Because of the incident, the left hand nose landing gear tire was punctured. Seven main gear tires were found with glass pieces embedded. Starting with the second light, 11 consecutive left hand edge lights on runway 31L were damaged as a result of the aircraft nose gear tires colliding with the lights as the aircraft accelerated for the attempted takeoff.
The Air Accident Investigation Sector determines that the cause of aligning the Aircraft with the left hand edge of runway 31L instead of the runway centerline was the loss of situation awareness by the crew. The root cause of the loss of situation awareness was not determined.
Official accident investigation report