Qatar Airways made the news, and not in a good way, three months ago when one of its 777s en route from Miami to Doha nearly overran the runway on departure, clipping landing lights and puncturing the skin of the aircraft. The plane was able to successfully complete the trip without further incident; in that sense all’s well that ends well. But the preliminary report from the incident was issued today by the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority and it raises some interesting questions about flight deck procedures and the use of digital solutions and how that may affect some safety scenarios.
The short version of the findings is that the pilots chose to depart from intersection T1 on Miami’s runway 9 that evening rather than use the full length of the runway as the flight computer indicated. This left the crew with roughly 1000 meters less of runway than the flight computer called for. That they got off the ground at all is quite spectacular.
This is also where the question of the digital systems comes in to play. Because they were using an Electronic Flight Bag (“EFB”) kit they had the ability to select a specific airport and then zoom in to see the runway layout. In this particular instance the crew may have zoomed in too far. The view the captain had (above) did not show the full length of the runway (below) so when they turned off at the taxiway T1 it was not clear just how much more runway there was further down. Similarly possible on a paper map when folded over, of course, but it seems to me that the digital nature of the map in this case likely contributed to the confusion.
The collision with the runway lights cut a 46cm gash in the fuselage; the aircraft had 90 different specific damage points requiring inspection and recertification. There was potential for a serious incident. Fortunately that did not come to pass. And while the preliminary findings are explicitly not laying blame I cannot help but wonder about the role that EFB setup played.
Never miss another post: Sign up for email alerts and get only the content you want direct to your inbox.