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United UA57 cleared for wrong runway - sweepover to lined up Easyjet

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United UA57 cleared for wrong runway - sweepover to lined up Easyjet

Old 30th Jul 2020, 20:58
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United UA57 cleared for wrong runway - swingover to lined up Easyjet

found on avherald (respecting copyright so my own words)

20th of July 2020
United 787-10 on final to 09L at CDG
ATC error cleared them on 09R
UA swinged over
Edit: Easyjet 320-200 was told to line up and wait for t/o clearance on 09R, warned on radio
G/A at 260ft AGL
rated serious incident by BEA

Last edited by Ray_Y; 2nd Aug 2020 at 19:20. Reason: correcting to word "swing" and to detail the "line up" part of the story
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Old 30th Jul 2020, 22:49
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Standard practice in the US to have the runway occupied on short final. Doubt the UA crew considered it a serious incident. Probably didnít even need to do any paperwork.
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Old 30th Jul 2020, 23:02
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Well, there's "occupied" and then there's "occupied". As I'm sure you know better than I, a runway is "occupied", whether waiting at the numbers for takeoff clearance or clearing the departure end threshold. I'm not sure about that latter point, the aircraft may to still have to be physically in contact with the runway surface, but that is how I recall it having been explained to me. Then again, there's "short final" and then there is "short final".

Here's a link to the AvHerald article:
Incident: United B78X at Paris on Jul 20th 2020, cleared to land on wrong runway, ATC error saved by Easyjet

I don't know, but it sounds pretty serious to me ... but not as serious as the Air Canada 'Bus lining up to land on the full (of taxiing/stopped aircraft) taxiway at SFO.

Last edited by capngrog; 31st Jul 2020 at 03:35. Reason: correct a typo
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Old 30th Jul 2020, 23:30
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Well, 3 mistakes adding up. Error 1 by ATC confusing 09R with L. Only one letter, but serious. Error 2 by UA crew to swing over without questioning the unforseen change. Error 3 by UA crew to go around so late, at low altitude. METAR reports clear visibility, so how could they miss to spot the waiting Easyjet until being so close? That last error is quite hard to understand and needs to be investigated the most. I hope this was not as bad as it reads.

Good job of the Easyjet crew for keeping good SA. The only clue they had was the radio transmission mentioning the wrong runway (Here I assume there was no explicit call to swing over by UA crew)

Last edited by Ray_Y; 2nd Aug 2020 at 06:22. Reason: correcting to swing
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Old 30th Jul 2020, 23:54
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Something to keep in mind for all the French air traffic controllers and pilots...

Would easyJet crew be able to maintain the same level of SA, should the aircraft performing a sidestep speak with ATC in French?
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Old 31st Jul 2020, 01:24
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This clearance most likely occured at 9nm when it would have seemed "reasonable" at that point (usually you get "Landing Clearance" in CDG after checking into tower frequency and announcing which Runway you're lined up for).

If ATC cleared them at the typical point (1-2nm when the runway was actually clear) like every other European airport, it would have seemed quite odd to switch runways then and the UA crew would have probably questioned the clearance. Specific mistakes aside here, to me just stands as another reason that "clearing someone to land #3" is really poor practice, as much as you're 'used to it' in the US.

There is no encumbrance to ATC expedition by waiting to clear someone to land when the runway is actually clear... Clue's in the word isn't it?

I know I've had this precise debate with some of the above posters here before, but apart from arguing that they're used to it, I cannot see any safety advantage in issuing clearances like this. Hopefully this will be the thing that shakes up CDG to the standard of rest of the sensible world.
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Old 31st Jul 2020, 04:49
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Originally Posted by FlyingStone View Post
Something to keep in mind for all the French air traffic controllers and pilots...

Would easyJet crew be able to maintain the same level of SA, should the aircraft performing a sidestep speak with ATC in French?
Exactly! This was the first thing that occurred to me. The French and their ridiculous pride over safety approach to reducing the SA of other crews.

Several times Iíve had busy Paris / CDG controllers issue me with instructions in French - typically when they are so busy that you have to wait some time before you can get a word in to request a proper clearance.
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Old 31st Jul 2020, 07:45
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Does UA use the hud in their 787ís? If so, did the flight path vector cue, and all the other green muck in your field of sight, compromise the field of vision of the landing aircraft?
perhaps they could not see the easyjet very clearly though the hud.
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Old 31st Jul 2020, 08:28
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Originally Posted by Ray_Y View Post
Error 3 by UA crew to go around so late, at low altitude. METAR reports clear visibility, so how could they miss to spot the waiting Easyjet until being so close? That last error is quite hard to understand and needs to be investigated the most. I hope this was not as bad as it reads.
I wouldn't call that an error, with a busy airport the runway is quite often occupied till you're very close to the runway. Latest landing clearance I ever received was at maybe 20-30ft above the CAT I minima...
Or something like "XXX, after departing A320 cleared to land Rwy YY" which basically tells you: OK, there's still traffic on the runway. One can go all the way to the minima before going around, in case the departing traffic is still on the runway - and CAT I minima tend to be around 200ft AGL, so I can't see anything wrong here.

Good job of the Easyjet crew for keeping good SA.
Yep definitely.
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Old 31st Jul 2020, 09:30
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Here's a fairly sparse plot from FR24 of the UAL GA:



It could do with a few more data points, but it appears to show that:

a) the United initiated the sidestep at approximately 2.5 DME from the 09L threshold

b) the height AGL over the 09R piano keys was approximately 75' (not necessarily the lowest height achieved in the GA)

The EZY plot on FR24 is even more inconclusive, but is consistent with having entered the runway at D5.

Usual FR24 caveats apply, in spades.

Last edited by DaveReidUK; 2nd Aug 2020 at 12:23. Reason: original graphic used duff runway elevation
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Old 31st Jul 2020, 09:49
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I know sidestep is pretty common in the US, but surprised they would attempt one at 2.5nm if that plot is correct.
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Old 31st Jul 2020, 10:21
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DaveReidUK

Oh great. So with all caution regarding the data validity, this is the picture including the assumed Easyjet Position on the rwy (NOT moving I understand):



(a position which is somehow parallel to the threshold of original 09L)

Look at the threshold displacement between 09L and 09R, UA sweeped to a runway being much closer.

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Old 31st Jul 2020, 10:52
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giggitygiggity

As a european pilot, I have to disagree with you there. I far prefer the way CDG (and the US) issue landing clearances to receiving landing clearances below 200’ (and even below 100’) at LHR and (to a lesser extent) LGW.
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Old 31st Jul 2020, 20:34
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Originally Posted by Ray_Y View Post
...so how could they miss to spot the waiting Easyjet until being so close...
Paradoxically in good daylight visibility another aircraft is not so easy to spot on a runway, especially if it is not on the piano keys but further down. From rear with the shallow approach angle the most visible parts are the wings and HS, both of which are a dull grey closely matching the concrete of the runway.
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Old 1st Aug 2020, 09:25
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Yeah, they should paint them a high visibility color, like orange or something.
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Old 1st Aug 2020, 10:06
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as it was in the morning probably they had also the sun just in front of them
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Old 1st Aug 2020, 19:19
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Originally Posted by donotdespisethesnake View Post
Yeah, they should paint them a high visibility color, like orange or something.
I'm not sure how good your eyes are but from behind the amount of orange that might be seen might be able to cover a bikini in Ibiza.


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Old 1st Aug 2020, 20:33
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I'm really surprised how late the UA crew swinged over. In the FR24 plot, which is never precise enuff an in doubts for me, they were aligned with the runway just inside the airport perimeter. If it really was was that late, I accept that they didn't have a lot of time to spot another airplane occupying the runway. And especially that one said of being at a position for intersection takeoff. Wonder how they managed to be at height over threshold.

Some asked for the Easyjet not having lined up yet. We can't know, but indirect hints are there: If it was totally save, they wouldn't have complained right away. And: BEA ranked it a serious incident "landing clearence on occupied runway. Yes, we don't know if they were already lined up. But obviously the Easyjet already crossed the Holding Position and entered the runway zone.

So I modify:
Error 1: ATC
Error 2: crew swing over very late, and still without questioning. This was not a stabilized approach at all, and looks like they coudn't maintain sufficient situational awareness.

But this needs confirmation from accurate details.

Last edited by Ray_Y; 2nd Aug 2020 at 14:32. Reason: correcting to swing and completing sentence
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Old 1st Aug 2020, 20:36
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Originally Posted by andrasz View Post
Paradoxically in good daylight visibility another aircraft is not so easy to spot on a runway, especially if it is not on the piano keys but further down. From rear with the shallow approach angle the most visible parts are the wings and HS, both of which are a dull grey closely matching the concrete of the runway.
If the swing over was that late as FR24 data suggests, you are absolutly right

Last edited by Ray_Y; 2nd Aug 2020 at 06:15. Reason: correcting to swing
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Old 1st Aug 2020, 22:03
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Er - what does "sweep over" mean?
35 years in commercial aviation and this is a first.
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