Australian investigators are conducting an inquiry into two runway excursions at Melbourne airport in September, during with both aircraft took off from a buffer zone between the runway and a section of runway undergoing resurfacing works.

In a preliminary report into the two incidents on runway 34, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau details that the runway 34 had been shortened from 3,657m (12,000ft) to 2,089m for resurfacing works.

Melbourne Airport Investigation

Source: Australian Transport Safety Bureau

Both aircraft took off beyond the temporary end lights of runway 34

“The flight crew of both aircraft did not identify that the shortened runway was in place and used the full length of runway 34 for their take-off performance calculations,” says ATSB in a preliminary report.

“As a result, the reduced-thrust engine settings used by both flight crews extended the take-off runs beyond the temporary runway end lights into a 450-metre buffer before the works limit line.”

The jet blast from both aircraft impacted runway unserviceability lights. Though there were personnel in the work area at the time of the incidents, there were no injuries either on the ground or among aircraft passengers and crew.

The first incident occurred on 7 September and involved a Malaysia Airlines A330-300 (9M-MTL) operating a service to Kuala Lumpur.

The crew told the ATSB that while they had been aware of the shortened runway on their approach to Melbourne the previous night, they missed the NOTAM details the night of the occurrence flight. They also indicated that a split screen display may have affected their ability to detect the shortened runway.

No communications between the crew and air traffic control mentioned the shortened runway.

Flight data indicates that the A330 rotated just 75m before the end of the runway, and the main landing gear left the runway just 170m before the work limit line. The aircraft crossed the works limit line at an altitude of 21ft.

The second incident involved a Bamboo Airways Boeing 787-9 (VN-A819) on the night of 18 September. The aircraft, prior to a service to Hanoi, suffered power issues before leaving the gate, and the crew reported a high workload.

“The flight crew did not recall recognising the runway closures from the [automatic terminal information system] and the [pilot in command] did not ultimately re-check the NOTAMs as originally intended,” reports the ATSB.

As with the 9 September flight, the aircraft left the ground in the buffer zone before the work limit area, passing over the works area at an altitude of about 10-16ft.