Italian probe details ATR crash rescue fiasco

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Italian investigators have disclosed that emergency vehicles did not arrive at the scene of an Alitalia ATR 72 landing accident in Rome until 10min after the crash alarm.

The aircraft, operated by Romania's Carpatair, landed on Rome Fiumicino's runway 16L but veered off, sustaining substantial damage.

It touched down 567m (1,860ft) from the threshold but bounced three times before the nose-gear as well as the main gear collapsed, says Italian investigation authority ANSV.

The aircraft slid on its fuselage for another 500m and spun nearly 180°, coming to rest 1,780m from the threshold and 30m from the right-hand edge of the runway.

ANSV says the crash site was almost directly opposite the fire station just 400m away. While the accident occurred at night, visibility at the time was more than 10km.

But although the control tower activated an alarm less than 50s after the accident, emergency vehicles followed a circuitous route to the site, arriving almost 10min later - by which time all the occupants had evacuated themselves from the wreckage.

After emerging from the fire station, emergency personnel had queried the location of the aircraft, and the tower responded that the crash site was near link taxiway DE.

But the vehicles drove along the main taxiway D, parallel to the runway, almost to the far end, before backtracking along the runway itself. Ground-track surveillance indicates that the vehicles then drove past the crash site, travelling 700m beyond, before turning around and arriving.

ANSV says the evidence suggests the fire brigade "did not seem to have full knowledge" of the position of the taxiway. But it also points out that the tower did not transmit a grid-map reference which would have positively identified the crash location.

There was no fire but 24 of the 50 on board flight AZ1670 from Pisa were transported to medical facilities outside the airport after the 2 February accident.

ANSV is still investigating the cause of the crash. But it has issued safety recommendations pointing out that fire and rescue response times should be 2min for the runway and no more than 3min for any other area.

It had previously identified, and highlighted, similar problems with the time to locate aircraft wreckage, after the crash of an Airbus A319 at Palermo in September 2010.