Dutch investigators believe an Aeromexico Boeing 787-9 crew started to taxi without confirmation of clearance before the twinjet struck a pushback tractor at Amsterdam Schiphol last year.

The crew of the aircraft, been parked at gate F3 on 11 June, had been cleared for engine start and pushback, and instructed the tractor driver accordingly.

After the pushback to taxiway A had been completed, the crew applied the brakes and notified the driver that the tractor could be disconnected.

The driver released the 787 and drove the tractor forward, stopping about 10ft in front of the aircraft, before removing the communication cable as well as the nose-gear pin to restore hydraulic power.

According to the Dutch Safety Board, the crew requested taxi clearance which was granted and carried out the taxi checklist – the final part of which requires confirmation that ground-support equipment is clear of the aircraft.

“Since the pushback tractor is not always visible from the cockpit, the crew must wait for the driver’s ‘all-clear’ hand signal before taxiing can commence,” it adds.

Amsterdam tractor incident-c-Dutch Safety Board

Source: Dutch Safety Board

Despite the collision the tractor driver escaped unharmed

The first officer, looking out of the cockpit window, saw no-one standing on the right side of the aircraft, but nevertheless assumed the taxiing path was clear.

As the aircraft moved forward it collided with the tractor, still parked in front, just as the driver was about to enter it.

“The crew felt a vibration and immediately stopped the aircraft,” says the safety board, adding that the driver was uninjured.

But the tractor was damaged, it states, and the aircraft – a General Electric GEnx-powered airframe, delivered to the carrier in 2019 – sustained damage to areas including the nose-gear tyres.