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Airbus A330 almost departs with damage after ground collision in Paris

Christian Fernsby |
On 31 October 2018, Delta Air Lines flight 97, an Airbus A330-323 (N817NW) hit Air France flight 498, an Airbus A330-203 (F-GZCI) on a taxiway at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport, France.

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Topics: AIRBUS    DAMAGE    COLLISION    PARIS   

F-GZCI was standing on taxiway RT1 behind an Airbus A320 at the holding point for runway 08L. N817NW taxied towards the parallel runways on the North side and attempted to pass behind on taxiway R. The captain of N817NW initially stopped behind flight F-GZCI, but judged that the margin was sufficient to pass. The left winglet of N817NW damaged the tail cone and horizontal stabilizer of F-GZCI.

The Air France crew interpreted the jolt as a consequence of jet blast from the Airbus A320 in front of them. The aircraft taxied forward after the A320 had entered the runway.

The first officer of the Delta flight contacted their operations department to inform them of a collision with another aircraft which had damaged their left wingtip and that they needed to return to the parking area.

About three minutes after the collision, a towing agent radioed the SW ground controller that the Air France flight had damage on the underside of the tail. The Air France A330, still waiting for clearance to taxi onto runway 08L, was then warned by the Tower controller about the damage. Both flights were then cancelled.

Probable cause and conclusion:
While taxiing, the crew of flight DAL97 identified a possible conflict with flight AFR498 at a standstill on a perpendicular taxiway. After stopping before the junction and considering that they had enough of a margin, the crew started taxiing again.

The left wingtip of the Delta Air Lines aeroplane then came into contact with the tail of the Air France aeroplane.

The crew of flight DAL97 were aware of the collision with the Air France aeroplane (impact, then information about the collision via a call from the cabin).

The FO in charge of radiocommunications reported the collision with another aeroplane to Delta’s operations but simply confirmed the damage to his aeroplane to the air traffic controller, without mentioning the collision with the Air France aeroplane. This may be explained by the increased work load following the collision.

The interpretation by the crew of flight AFR498, of the weak signals received (impact, then cabin call) meant that they did not realise that there had been a collision with another aeroplane.

Only the intervention on the frequency of an agent towing another aeroplane, to advise of the damage to the Delta Air Lines aeroplane and then to the Air France aeroplane finally allowed the air traffic controller to identify the actors of the collision and to thus prevent flight AFR498 from taking off.

When at least one of the crews involved in a collision between two aircraft is aware of the accident, its immediate declaration to the air traffic control service will ensure that the latter is aware of the complete situation, can rapidly identify the actors of the collision and prevent an additional accident.

What’s more, this event is a reminder that precisely following the centre line of a taxiway does not protect an aircraft from colliding with other moving vehicles on taxiways which are not parallel to it.


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