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Qatar chief points to air traffic control in Miami collision

Qatar Airways chief Akbar Al Baker says instructions from air traffic controllers resulted in the September runway light collision in Miami, despite evidence of confusion in the cockpit.

“It was an instruction given to our pilot by the air traffic control, which he should have refused to accept,” says Al Baker at a media event in New York today. “However, he had enough runway for getting airborne and it was only an unfortunate incident. At no time was the aircraft or the passengers put in any harms way.”

Al Baker’s comments differ markedly from preliminary findings from the Qatari civil aviation authority on the incident earlier in December.

Investigators found that the captain of the Qatar Boeing 777-300ER chose to depart from the T1 intersection of runway 09 at Miami International airport despite carrying out the calculations for a full-length runway departure and despite a prohibition on intersection take offs from this runway.

Neither the captain nor the three other crew members in the cockpit realised that the T1 intersection was some 1,000m from the beginning of runway 09, leaving the 342t aircraft with only 2,610m available for the departure, the investigation finds.

No where do the initial findings suggest that air traffic controllers told the pilots to take off from the T1 intersection. They do say that the first officer advised air traffic controllers that the intersection was an acceptable line-up point for take off.

The Qatar 777, operating flight 778, continued to Doha even after overrunning running 09 and striking the approach lights on departure.

“Such kind of incidents happen quite often, either it is a tail strike on the runway or it is contact with the landing lights,” says Al Baker. “It is nothing out of context.”

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