Following Friday’s runway collision involving a departing LATAM Airlines Airbus A320neo and a firetruck crossing the runway, the pilots operating flight LA 2213 we’re arrested and held in custody in Lima before being released on Saturday night. The pilots’ arrests have stirred concern within the International Federation Air Line Pilots’ Association (IFALPA).
A look back at what happened
The unfortunate accident happened at Aeropuerto Internacional Jorge Chávez, where LATAM Airlines was scheduled to operate a domestic flight service LA 2213, using one of its Airbus A320neo registered CC-BHB. Everything was routine as the pilots prepared for their take-off roll and were ready to depart.
As LA 2213 was accelerating through its take-off roll, airport fire trucks were crossing the very same runway. Unfortunately, the pilots of LA 2213 were unable to stop the aircraft, which had reached more than 120 knots, and this resulted in a tragic collision with one of the airport fire trucks.
The crash led to the landing gear collapsing and the right engine and wing bursting into flames. While it was fortunate that LA 2213 suffered no passenger or crew fatalities, the same sadly could not be said of the firefighters driving the fire truck. Two died, and one remains in a critical condition.
In the wake of the accident, the flight crew of LA 2213 was arrested and held in custody. After discovering their arrests, IFALPA voiced their concerns as the union emphasized that the flight crew should have been provided immediate medical care and evaluation before being subjected to criminal arrest. The union said:
“In no circumstances is it appropriate to question the flight crew of LATAM 2213 in the immediate aftermath of any accident or incident until they have been professionally evaluated by qualified medical personnel. The evaluation is to help determine their mental and physical fitness to contribute accurate information to investigators.”
The union also further emphasized that arresting the pilots so soon was in complete disregard for the Positive Safety Culture principles laid out by Annex 13 (Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation) and Annex 19 (Safety Management) of the Convention on International Civil Aviation.
Most importantly, IFALPA noted that the immediate arrest would lead to the public believing that the accident resulted from the pilots’ intentional acts instead of considering other possible causes. Other causes included technical or mechanical issues or even a string of human errors triggered by multiple factors.
Eventually, the pilots were released from custody on Saturday night, albeit it remains unclear if they are still under arrest. Regardless, IFALPA continues to encourage the Peruvian authorities to follow and implement ICAO’s positive safety culture principles for the remainder of the investigation.
Part of an emergency drill
The pilots’ release likely came as Peruvian officials discovered that the fire trucks crossing the runway were taking part in a nearby fire drill and had allegedly entered the runway without authorization. The drill was part of a disaster-response exercise required as part of the preparations for the new runway slated to be ready in January.
As per Peruvian aeronautical regulations, the exercise intended to confirm that the airport firefighting services could reach a scene of an emergency on the runway within three minutes. The rules also required that the airport operator conduct such unannounced drills, in coordination with air traffic services, at least three times a year.
But according to the airport operator, the firefighters did obtain authorization for the drill and to cross the runway. The firefighters had coordinated with air traffic services the day before, and the exercise was slated to commence between 15:00 and 16:00 on the day of the accident.
Air traffic controllers had allegedly confirmed a starting time of 15:10, and investigations discovered that it was at 15:11 when LA 2213 collided with one of the fire trucks. Given the conflicting perspectives, the airport operator said it would continue working with the relevant authorities to clarify all facts in the investigation.
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- Date Founded:
- Guillaume Faury
- Headquarters Location:
- Toulouse, France
- Key Product Lines:
- Airbus A220, Airbus A320, Airbus A330, Airbus A340, Airbus A350, Airbus A380
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