View Full Version : Close call between airplane and snowploughs on Helsinki Airport runway

24th Jan 2018, 03:05
According to Finnish YLE News (https://yle.fi/uutiset/osasto/news/close_call_between_airplane_and_snow_ploughs_on_helsinki_air port_runway/10037037) the air traffic controllers authorized a Nordic Regional Airlines) ATR 72-500 plane with 60 pax to takeoff while a snowplough and two tractors were clearing snow from its runway.

The incident took place at around 9:30 on Tuesday morning (January 23rd). The Safety Investigation Authority is investigating the incident as a serious risk situation and the authority's director said the fact that a collision did not take place was mostly down to simple luck.

Hotel Tango
24th Jan 2018, 14:17
Certainly an interesting event, not to attribute blame but just to know how it could happen. Sunrise is at 08:50 local time so it must have been light.

ATC Watcher
24th Jan 2018, 16:05
Would definitively like to know a little bit more before starting to throw stones at the controller. Those incidents have very rarely one single cause.

24th Jan 2018, 16:43
Looking down the runway, the crew might only see a blowing snow cloud, unfortunately cloaking a solid lump upwind:uhoh:

pax britanica
24th Jan 2018, 16:44
having been a frequent visitor to Helsinki often in winter , sunrise-often a hypothetical event in HEL at 0850 doesn't mean it will be light by 0930 or even 1030. If its cloud cover it will still be a very dark twilight with low cloud and poor visibility.

The Finns are very efficient people especially when it comes to snow issues. My guess is that the tower couldnt see the sweepers in the general gloom and huge snowbanks that line each runway. All the same I can't see them relying only on what can be seen from the tower but more on position reporting by the vehicles

IIRC there are three runways at Vantaa, two parallels and a shorter crossing one so I would speculate -if i had to- that the sweepers said they were on one runway but close to the intersection where in fact they are on both. Its not easy for them to see much either -HEL in mid winter can be a very dark grey and murky place . of course of the sun was out a very different picture.

Unless the sub is shining mid winter on a Nordic airport is a very bleak and desolate place

His dudeness
24th Jan 2018, 17:29
surface movement radar, do they have one ?

24th Jan 2018, 17:54
And ADS-B transponders in the vehicles? Shouldn't that generate automated alerts when they are on the runway?

24th Jan 2018, 18:31
Can't remember Tuesday but to say it was light at 0850 this morning was stretching it a bit.

Re the earlier thread about Heathrow stopping, life was fairly difficult in Helsinki, all forms of transport, this morning.

It is a bit better now.

Hotel Tango
24th Jan 2018, 22:41

I stated that sunrise was at 08:50. The incident was around 09:30. However, pax britanica quite rightly suggested that in that part of the world there probably won't be much additional light by 09:30.

25th Jan 2018, 04:57
Sorry, my misread.

If I remember, I'll look at 0930 this morning.

It's very windy, raining heavily and +4 this morning but clearing skies from the west.

ATC Watcher
25th Jan 2018, 07:44
Whether it was dark, semi dark or daylight is not the most relevant factor here. From the location of most TWR you cannot ascertain only by looking outside if the trucks are on or besides the runway. Only direct VHF contact or electronic means can ensure you if the runway is clear or not.

25th Jan 2018, 08:34
At 0930 today it was daylight.

Visibility may have been reduced by blowing snow but I don't remember it being a problem Tuesday - it was, for driving, yesterday morning.

As alluded to above the problem was more likely a communication or procedural problem.

25th Jan 2018, 16:55
Well the story doesn't really say the plane was cleared for takeoff with the snow equipment on the runway, only that it was allowed to or cleared to "approach" the runway. Perhaps that is a distinction without a difference.

And there is no ground movement coverage on FlightRadar24 of the ATR which took off at 9:36.