Air traffic controller apologizes for planes colliding at Schiphol

An easyJet Airbus A320 collided with a KLM Boeing 737-800 at Schiphol airport, 9 July 2019
An easyJet Airbus A320 collided with a KLM Boeing 737-800 at Schiphol airport, 9 July 2019. (Photo: Jye Sandiford/Twitter)

A misunderstanding seems to be the cause of a collision between an easyJet Airbus and a KLM Boeing at Schiphol on Tuesday. Air traffic control allowed both to leave the gate at the same time, after which they hit each other, according to sound recordings of the conversation between air traffic control and the KLM pilot, AD reports.

The collision happened during pushback, while the ground staff pushed the planes backwards out of the the gates. Webcam recordings show how the easyJet Airbus and KLM Boeing are pushed backwards simultaneously. They collided with each other while they both tried to make a turn. Both planes were damaged. 

On the recording, you can hear an air traffic controller calling it a misunderstanding, according to the newspaper. "I thought you were parked on the H-gate, but now it's D25", he said to the KLM pilot, instructing him to stop taxiing and return to the gate if possible. This is when the KLM pilot told air traffic control that he collided with an easyJet plane. "Yes?" the traffic controller asked. "Oops. That is very annoying." He immediately apologized. 

No one was injured in the collision, passengers only had to deal with a delay. KLM and easyJet both organized replacement planes to take the passengers to their destination. 

Exactly how this incident could have happened, is still being investigated. It is already clear that none of the people involved were under the influence of drugs or alcohol. 

Aviation expert Joris Melkert, lecturer in Aviation Technology at TU Delft, called the collision a "modest incident" and "possibly a case of not paying attention", according to AD. "I call it an oops moment. But it does underline the conclusions that the Dutch Safety Board already drew in a report last year. The report points out security risks that arise because more and more people are flying from Schiphol. According to the Board, measures are needed to continue to guarantee safety."

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