MD-82 crew not warned about truck

Rome
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Italian investigators have stressed the need for crew caution during taxiing after a collision with a truck sheared the wing off an Alitalia Boeing MD-82 at Trieste two years ago, writes David Kaminski-Morrow.

Flight AZ1357 had landed on runway 09 at Trieste Ronchi dei Legionari airport after a flight from Rome Fiumicino on 20 April 2004, and was travelling along the airport’s taxiway B, close to a construction site, when its right wing hit the truck. The collision, involving MD-82 I-DAWR, tore off the outer 6m (20ft) of the wing, causing fuel to spill from ruptured tanks, and led to the aircraft being evacuated. The force of the impact also wrinkled the fuselage, although none of the 92 passengers was injured.

Italy’s air accident investigation agency ANSV states that, after landing, the crew received a “generic instruction” from tower controllers to proceed to the airport apron. The crew had not been warned of any taxiing restrictions, nor had taxiway B – the most convenient route to the apron – been closed to traffic. At the time the crew did not know that the truck, which was being loaded with earth, was inside the normal proximity limits.

ANSV says the captain was pre-occupied with identifying the allocated parking gate, while the first officer was busy with after-landing checklist procedures. “Consequently [the crew became aware] of events just a short time before the impact,” says the agency. “By then the collision was unavoidable.”

ANSV points out that the crew’s primary task while taxiing is to ensure that the aircraft remains clear of obstacles, and that the first officer should be responsible for monitoring the right-hand side. But it adds that authorities at Trieste contributed to the accident by leaving the taxiway open and failing to warn crews adequately about the work in progress at the airport.