Details have emerged of an incident
at Lisbon International Airport earlier this month in which an air traffic
controller ordered an Air France Airbus A320 to abort its take-off roll at high
speed after realising that it was departing on a taxiway.
The Airbus A320, operating flight
AF1205, was bound for Paris Charles de Gaulle with 65 passengers on board and
had been given departure clearance from Lisbon’s runway 03.
Runway 03, the main strip at the
airport, converges and intersects with the shorter secondary runway 35. Running
parallel to 03 along its entire length - and also intersecting the shorter
runway - is the main taxiway U1. Lisbon’s terminal buildings lie to the east of
the runway complex.
Visibility was good and the runway
was dry at the time, shortly before 11:15. Instead of turning onto the runway,
however, the aircraft, registered F-GFKU, lined up on the U1 taxiway and
commenced its take-off run.
An air traffic controller realised
what was happening and alerted the aircraft’s crew which aborted the take-off after
travelling some 800m (2,600ft) along the taxiway.
Portugal’s GPIA investigation
authority is probing the incident. A spokeswoman for Air France, while not
prepared to comment on progress with the investigation, says that indications
were that there was “construction work” on the short taxiway N, one of two
which connects the far southern end of the U1 taxiway to runway 03.
An internal Air France document
reporting the 7 February incident also refers to “work and red barriers”
present on taxiway N - although it does not comment further on the significance
of this observation.
Following the aborted take-off the
aircraft’s brakes were cooled and the crew prepared the twin-jet for take-off a
second time, eventually departing normally. The incident came just a few days
after a China Airlines Airbus A340 took off on a taxiway at Anchorage
International Airport, Alaska; US authorities are still studying the cause of