Dutch Safety Board investigates near-miss at Schiphol

EHAM_Terminal_E_Schiphol Mark Brouwer, Wikimedia commons

The Dutch Safety Board launched an investigation into a near-miss between two planes at Schiphol airport last week. Two planes came dangerously close to hitting each other on Thursday. The safety board describes it as a "serious incident" on its website.

The pilot of a plane landing on runway 18C decided at the last moment not to land the plane after all and took it back into the air. Shortly before that another plane was given permission to take off on runway 24. "Because the extensions of both runways intersect, the planes came close together", the Safety Board writes. 

In April last year the Dutch Safety Board released a report saying that the explosive growth in the number of flights at Schiphol is putting safety at risk. The Board investigated the situation at Schiphol following a number of incidents similar to the one above, including another near collision between two planes. 

According to newspaper AD, an email shows that Schiphol had a say in the final version of the report the Dutch Safety Board released in April last year. Airport employees note that criticism in the final report was "weakened on many points" compared to the draft report. "On the positive side, the comments on the draft report has been largely and fundamentally processed. The initial conclusion that safety at Schiphol is currently already under pressure is no longer an issue and does not reflect in the final version", the email reads, according to the newspaper. 

It was also revealed last year that Schiphol has far more runway incidents than other international airports of comparable size. AD compared figures from Schiphol with figures of six other airports that also handle between 400 thousand and 500 thousand flight movements per year. In 2016 Schiphol had 47 so-called runway incursions - incidents in which an aircraft, vehicle or person is on a runway currently being used for a landing or takeoff. In that same year Munich airport had 3 such incidents, John F. Kennedy in New York had 5 and London Heathrow had 13.

Last year Schiphol handled nearly 497 thousand takeoffs and landings, 3.7 percent more than in 2016. The airport is very close to reaching its 500 thousand flight movements per year limit, which is in place until 2020.