Controller intervened to stop A319's taxiway take-off

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Preliminary investigations indicate that an air traffic controller intervened to prevent an Air France aircraft taking off from a taxiway in Sofia.

The Airbus A319 had been given take-off clearance while taxiing to runway 09 via taxiways N, J and B, states French investigation authority BEA.

It adds that the crew acknowledged the clearance but, instead of taxiing to the runway, the crew turned right onto taxiway H.

The BEA, in a bulletin on the 16 October incident, says the A319 started its take-off run but the controller "called the crew to abort".

Sofia's taxiway H was previously used as a runway before a new strip, running parallel, was constructed a short distance to the north.

The aircraft was subsequently asked to leave the taxiway and directed back to a holding point for runway 09.

None of those on board the twinjet (F-GRHU) was injured. BEA gives the time of the incident as just before 07:00, which would have been shortly before sunrise in Sofia. Meteorological data indicated good visibility at the time.