Vehicle visibility reviewed after 757's close call at Dublin

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Dublin Airport's operator has increased visibility of ground vehicles after a serious incident last month in which a landing Boeing 757-200 passed over an occupied tractor mower after a night touchdown in low visibility.

The Skyservice Airlines 757, operating for Thomson Airways, had just touched down on Dublin's runway 10 after a flight from Sharm el-Sheikh, when the crew reported seeing ground equipment near the right-side edge lights.

Air Accident Investigation Unit specialists have determined that a ride-on grass mower had been travelling along the runway, in the same direction as the aircraft, a "number of metres inside" the edge lights.

"The driver of the mower was unaware that an aircraft was landing and he did not see the aircraft before it passed his vehicle," says the AAIU. "It is probable that the starboard wing of the Boeing 757 passed over the ride-on mower during the landing roll."

Visibility had dropped to around 800m at the time of the incident, 02:53 on 29 May.

Investigators discovered that the mower had no rear lights or flashing beacon, nor was it fitted with VHF radio for monitoring control tower communications. The mower had been one of a group of vehicles maintaining the area before fog led to their work being stopped, minutes before the 757's arrival.

There were no injuries among the 206 passengers and crew on the aircraft. The airport authority has accepted a safety recommendation to equip all vehicles working near runways with VHF radio, warning lights, and transponders.

Dublin's tower is being equipped with advanced surface-movement and guidance equipment but this will not be operational until September. Investigators found from test recordings, however, that the system would have detected the incursion threat.