Event Details

Title:Runway excursion while taxiing, ATR 72 (EI-RED), Galway, December 15, 2004
Micro summary:This ATR-72 went off the runway while doing a 180°
Event Time:2004-12-15 at 1047 UTC
File Name:2004-12-15-IE.pdf
Publishing Agency:Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU)
Publishing Country:Ireland
Report number:2005/013
Site of event:Eastern end of Runway 26, Galway Airport
Departure:Galway Airport, Galway, Ireland
Destination:London Luton Airport, London, England
Airplane Type(s):ATR 72-202
Flight Phase:Taxi
Operator(s):Aer Arann
Type of flight:Revenue
Serious Injuries:0
Other Injuries:0
Executive Summary:While carrying out a 180º turn (prior to take-off) at the eastern end of RWY 26 at Galway Airport, the nose landing gear (NLG) and the left-hand main landing gear (LH MLG) departed the paved surface, and the aircraft became embedded in soft grassy ground. There were no reported injuries or damage to the aircraft.

While a 180º taxiing turn is a relatively straight forward manoeuvre, a number of factors must be considered, including, the overall size of the aircraft, its wheel base and the outer main wheel span, the available angles of steering, the rate of turn, the pavement available, the surface conditions, the wind conditions, and the point at which the reversal of direction commences.

The wind condition reported as 190º/03 kts is not considered to be a factor in this event.

The runway friction concerns expressed by the Operator, as outlined at Section 1.4 of this report, related specifically to the painted runway markings on the re-surfaced runway becoming slippery when WET. The grooving of the entire runway, (displaced threshold to displaced threshold) has since resolved this issue.

The runway was reported by ATC as DAMP for the departure of EI-RED. The Captain made no report of skidding or slipping during the turn manoeuvre, primarily because he did not notice the usual “rumble” sounds that would normally be associated with nose wheel skidding/slipping. In addition, the area in which the manoeuvre was performed was free from painted markings, except for a centreline arrow on the portion of the runway before the displaced threshold.

The runway end at Galway is not served by a taxiway, taxiway turnaround or a turn pad. Therefore, it is necessary, when completing an 180º turn, to taxi off the centreline, track towards the runway edge and turn back towards the centreline. Normally the aircraft will pass through the centreline at 90º before it can re-intercept the centreline from the other side.

It is clear from Appendix A, B and Table 1, that an aircraft the size of the ATR 72 is well capable of carrying out a 180º turn on a 30m wide runway such as Galway, once the steering angle is greater than 45º and up to 60º. However, when using the shallower steering angles (45º- 50º), it does require that the reversal of direction be initiated relatively close to the runways’ edge. Where this is not done and/or if the steering angle is set below 45º or a higher angle is not maintained throughout the manoeuvre, safety margins are likely to be compromised. In the case of EI-RED, it is considered that, any one or a combination of all three of these factors, contributed to the aircraft leaving the paved surface. While it is considered unlikely that the nose wheel suffered from some loss of traction during the turn manoeuvre on the DAMP surface, the Investigation cannot entirely rule this possibility out.

ICAO Recommends that, where the end of the Code C runway is not served by a taxiway or a taxiway turnaround, a turn pad should be provided to facilitate a 180-degree turn of aircraft. A Recommendation is recognized as desirable in the interest of safety, regularity, and to which Contracting States will endeavour to conform in accordance with the Convention. The Investigation accepts that an aircraft the size of the ATR 72 can carry out an 180º turn on the runway at Galway, without a compromise in safety, once the manoeuvre is performed properly.

However, the Investigation does recognise that the main advantage of a taxiway, taxiway turnaround or a turn pad, is that the aircraft can turn/intercept directly onto the runway centreline and that a turn pad will also provide more pavement to conduct the manoeuvre, thereby increasing the safety margin.

In the spirit of the ICAO Recommendation for Turn Pads, the Investigation concludes that for any further runway development in Galway, the Airport Management should consider the inclusion of Turn Pads at either end of the runway. A Safety Recommendation has been made to that effect.
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