Portuguese airports warned over ‘confusing’ terminology

[Ref Flight International Magazine 28Jan-3Feb 2020]

Two identical serious take-off incidents within two weeks involving EasyJet Airbus A320s at Lisbon. Both incidents involved the aircraft accelerating with ­insufficient thrust and becoming airborne close to the far end of the runway.

While calculating take-off performance criteria with the electronic flightbag, the pilots both based the calculation on the take-off ­position designated “PSNSTMP” (temporary position S), believing it to refer to the S1 intersection.

But this designation actually stood for the S4 intersection, used for a full-length runway take-off of 3,800m (12,500ft), which would have allowed a lower thrust level.

“Robust adherence to procedures is a key defence against such incidents occurring,”

In fact, the crew did not crosscheck the take-off distances available from the two positions and, as a result, failed to detect the error.

Although Airbus is developing a system for the A320 intended to offer protection against incorrectly calculated take-off performance, it indicated to the inquiry that the system in its current state would not have warned the crews of either EasyJet aircraft because the runway remaining ­exceeded the forecast take-off ­distance.

EasyJet has since taken steps to prevent a recurrence including issuing a notice to crews, and raising awareness of the two incidents among pilots.

“We are aware of the report and fully assisted the AAIB with its investigation,” says the budget carrier. “The safety of our passengers and crew is always our highest priority.

“We take events of this nature seriously and will always take ­action to ensure we maintain the highest standards of safety. As highlighted in the report we ­proactively took a number of safety actions.”

It has also engaged with Airbus with regard to future potential protective measures.

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