Page last updated at 08:42 GMT, Friday, 9 January 2009

Report finds runway 'was unsafe'

Scene of accident at Bristol Airport
The accident report makes safety recommendations

Passenger planes were involved in "serious" incidents on an unsafe temporary runway surface at Bristol Airport, an accident report has said.

In one case a plane went off the runway and ended on a grass verge after braking problems, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said.

The incidents happened in wet weather between November 2006 and January 2007.

The AAIB calls for improved safety in recommendations to the Civil Aviation Authority and European safety experts.

Surface treated

Following the incidents, a number of airlines cancelled or diverted flights away from Bristol, affecting travel plans for 25,000 passengers.

The airport was eventually closed so that the runway surface could be treated and there were no further incidents after it reopened.

The AAIB said before the closure there had been several separate areas of the runway which had a temporary ungrooved base course asphalt surface while resurfacing work went on.

It said Bristol's risk assessment plan "had not adequately addressed the hazards presented to aircraft operating on the temporary surfaces in wet and windy weather".

The AAIB said there were three incidents on 29 December 2006 and a fourth on 3 January 2007.

In one case an ATR 72 aircraft operated by Channel Island carrier Aurigny left the runway on landing and came to rest on a grass verge.

In another serious incident, a British Airways CitiExpress Embraer 145 aircraft partially left, and then came back on to, the runway.

The AAIB said advice published by the Civil Aviation Authority about wet runways was not communicated by the airlines to their flight crews.

Also, information from air traffic control about braking gave flight crews "false confidence in the braking action available on the wet runway", the report said.

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