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Damage to aircraft and approach lights at Miami airport

Screenshot of QCAA preliminary report

Damage to aircraft and approach lights at Miami airport

Updated on Dec. 10 to include comments from Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker.

Miscommunication among the flight crew and mistakes by the captain led to a Qatar Airways Boeing 777 hitting a set of runway lights in Miami in September, resulting in substantial damage to the aircraft, a preliminary report published by the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority (QCAA) has found.

The report, which was released yesterday, states that the aircraft entered the runway at intersection T1, which made the available runway 1,368m too short.

This was despite clear instructions stating that such a take off was forbidden for the Boeing 777, which was heavily laden with passengers and cargo.

Image showing position of approach lighting system in relation to the end of the runway 09 at Miami Dade

Google earth

Image showing position of approach lighting system in relation to the end of the runway 09 at Miami Dade

As a result, the aircraft only became airborne at the very end of the runway, colliding with the Approach Lighting System, a series of masts located about 60m beyond the runway limits.

The report noted that the flight’s captain had realized that “something was not right” as the plane accelerated, passing markers that told the crew they only had 900m of runway left, but had “concluded (that) the safest course of action was to continue.”

The aircraft only started to take off within the final 300m of runway which is clearly marked by red lights, the report said.

It also stated that although the crew were aware of their close call, they were unaware that the aircraft had collided with the approach lights until they arrived back in Qatar.

Extensive damage

Although the flight continued to Doha as normal and landed safety, the report highlighted the scale of the damage caused by the collision.

Upon landing, an inspection revealed a 46cm tear in the fuselage behind the rear cargo door.

Data taken from the flight recorders shows that this tear forced the aircraft to compensate (successfully) to prevent a loss of cabin pressure during the flight.

There were also 90 dents and scratches across an 18 square meter area of the plane’s undercarriage, and some damage to a metal guard on the left landing gear.

Al Baker played down the seriousness of the incident while speaking in the USA several days after the QCAA’s report was released:

“Such kind of incidents happen quite often, either it is a tail strike on the runway or it is contact with the landing lights,” Al Baker was quoted as saying. “It is nothing out of context.”

Cockpit confusion

According to the report, a shared name – T1 – for the runway intersection and a completely separate reference in the crew’s pre-flight data is at the heart of the incident.

It stated the Qatar Airways flight crew had decided that it would be safe to take off from Intersection T1 on Miami’s Runway 09 because they had become confused by another mention of “T1” in the data given to them before the flight.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Boeing

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

This reference, “Runway 09#T1,” actually referred to a temporary performance advisory for the runway, but not to the intersection in question, and the repeated use of “T1” was a coincidence.

The crew had seen this advisory while calculating the runway length required for takeoff, a calculation made using the plane’s onboard computers.

The report noted that during this calculation, the crew “understood” that they must use the full length of the runway, and that they had read information that said that intersection departures were not permissible.

However, as the aircraft was taxiing, the captain apparently decided that the aircraft could depart from the intersection, rather than from the beginning of the runway.

It noted that he “could not recall” why he made that decision, but that he believed it “may have been” because the printed information displayed Runway 09#T1 “in a compelling way.”

He then asked the first officer (FO) to advise Air Traffic Control of this decision. The report stated that the FO “glanced at his notes” and saw he had written “09/(T1)#” which he said made him believe that this was an acceptable line-up point for take-off.

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker has contradicted the QCAA’s findings, saying instead that the error originated with airport staff in Miami:

“It was an instruction given to our pilot by the air traffic control, which he should have refused to accept,” Al Baker said at a media event in New York, according to industry website Flightglobal. “However, he had enough runway for getting airborne and it was only an unfortunate incident. At no time was the aircraft or the passengers put in any harms way.”

Relief crew

There were two further pilots – another captain and first officer, the aircraft’s relief crew – in the flight deck during the incident.

The report stated that these two pilots questioned the captain’s decision to take off from the intersection, as it appeared to be different from what they had been briefed on before the flight.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Aero Icarus/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The captain apparently “made a hand gesture” in reply, “and said something which he thought was seeking reassurance from the crew that everything was OK.”

The flight’s first officer replied that he was happy with the decision, the report stated.

Meanwhile, the relief crew misunderstood the captain’s response, thinking that he had just said that he was happy with the decision and that he had most likely recalculated the flight data, so they didn’t press the matter further.

The flight’s captain and first officer were both experienced pilots, but also both relatively new on the Boeing 777, with 996 and 234 hours on the aircraft, respectively.

It is not known if the flight crew have faced disciplinary proceedings following the incident.

A Qatar Airways spokeswoman told Doha News that “the event” had been “resolved”

The QCAA said that its investigation is continuing, and that its final report will be published “in due course.”

Thoughts?

Damaged SUV

Lesley Walker

Damaged SUV

With reporting by Peter Kovessy

Updated at 1:35pm on Oct. 26 with MOI statement on leaked footage

Two teenage boys were killed in a road accident over the weekend when an SUV and a sewage tanker crashed into each other at an intersection near the Wadi Al Banat Woqod petrol station on Friday afternoon.

The Qatari youths, aged 16 and 19 years old, were understood to have been in a white car that was heading south on Arab League Street at around 3pm when it collided with a yellow tanker that was driving east across the intersection, toward Lusail Marina.

Dramatic footage of the incident showing the moments leading up to the crash as well as the collision itself has been widely shared on social media, prompting condemnations from the local community.

This afternoon, the Ministry of Interior announced that it has detained the people accused of leaking the video:

Witnesses to the incident described hearing a loud bang followed by thick black smoke and fire.

Duhail junction of incident

Lesley Walker

Duhail junction of incident

A worker on a nearby building site told Doha News: “There was a very big noise. The white car and the tanker had hit each other. Suddenly there was lots of very black smoke, then flames.”

Police arrived around 20 minutes later, followed by at least three Civil Defense trucks and ambulances, according to the witness, who asked not to be named.

“The firemen quenched the flames with their hoses, and the ambulance crew took out stretchers but it was so bad, they couldn’t get anyone out. It was terrible,” he added.

A representative of Hamad Hospital morgue told Doha News that bodies of two Qatari teens had been brought in by emergency services shortly before 7pm on Friday.

The victims have not been named. It remains unclear how many people were in the SUV at the time of the incident, and whether the truck driver was injured or killed.

Footage

According to what appears to be leaked CCTV footage of the accident, which Doha News is not publishing, the tanker can be seen approaching the intersection on what appears to be a green traffic light.

It is unclear whether the light is still green when he enters the middle of the intersection. Meanwhile, the white SUV comes from the left and the two vehicles collide, forcing the tanker onto its side.

Damaged sewage tanker

Lesley Walker

Damaged sewage tanker

Seconds later, the vehicles catch fire. From the footage, a figure can be seen walking from what looks like the accident site to the central median of the road.

Witnesses were unable to say if the person was the truck driver or another passenger directly involved in the accident.

Accident site

Lesley Walker

Accident site

Photographs of the scene have also been shared on social media showing emergency responders in attendance, and the SUV, which appears to have hit a street light pole front-on.

The intersection still bore the scars of the incident this morning, as a section of the tarmac is blackened and the damaged pole lies on the ground.

Both the badly burnt-out remains of the SUV and the yellow sewage tanker remain near the accident site.

Criticism

The footage has since been removed from at least one popular Facebook group.

This week, dozens of comments were left on the Arabic-language online forum Qatar Shares, discussing the incident and calling for the person who leaked the film to be punished.

Commenter Al Seif 5 said:

“It’s very obvious that the video was leaked by an official, responsible for the (CCTV) cameras at the intersection. We demand that the highest ranking official, the Minister of Interior, penalize whoever leaked the video, because this person doesn’t deserve to hold that post.”

Aaber Sabil said:

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Mike_Fleming / Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

“Official surveillance cameras are available to maintain order and catch violators. If any of the family members of the deceased had any suspicions regarding the accident, they could’ve been permitted to watch the video.

But to broadcast the video to the public, to everyone who is involved and not involved to watch  is irresponsible and unjustified…I believe it was bad judgement on behalf of whoever leaked it, without the approval  or directive of a high ranking officer.”

And Boost said:

“A message to those who leaked the video; Aren’t you worried that tomorrow …(someone) will take a picture of your parents or children dying? Or take your picture and burn your parents’ hearts  over you?”

Many others offered their condolences to the families of the victims, while some called the video a warning against speeding:

“Whoever watches the video will understand the meaning of speeding and its horrible repercussions,” Bang Bang said.

Draft law

The practice of taking photos of accident scenes and sharing them on social media has become increasingly prevalent in Qatar.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

DaveLawler / Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

To tackle this, a new draft law criminalizing the sharing of gruesome scenes was approved by the state Cabinet last month.

The proposed amendment to Law No. 11 of 2004 would punish anyone who “captures or transmits pictures of the deceased or injured in accidents without the consent of their representatives, through devices of any kind.”

The penalties that would be imposed for those found guilty of the offense have not yet been revealed.

Previously, lawyers told Doha News that residents who post macabre videos and photos of car accident victims online could be penalized under Qatar’s privacy laws.

However, they conceded that the country’s legal system does not typically prosecute individuals who tweet or post such images on Facebook.

Road deaths

Traffic accidents are one of the biggest single causes of death in Qatar. A US-based study published last year found that Qatar residents are five times more likely to die in a vehicle crash than from a stroke – the highest ratio in the world.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

HMC/Facebook

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

According to research published in January this year by the Qatar Road Safety Studies Center at Qatar University, the number of traffic accidents in Qatar has increased by more than five-fold over 18 years, with the total number of all types of accidents up on average 14 percent each year between 1996 and 2013, from 44,077 to 290,829.

The report also found that the vast majority of those killed on Qatar’s roads are young men. Its figures showed that 9o percent of all mortalities were males aged 20 to 30 years old and stated that the most critical accidents were caused by novice drivers, with less than four years’ experience.

A separate study conducted by Northwestern University in Qatar found that local youth in particular are dying in road accidents at a disproportionate rate. Assistant Prof. Susan Dun is now studying the reasons for this with grant support from the Qatar National Research Fund.

Thoughts?

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

HMC/Facebook

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

With reporting from Heba Fahmy

Three men who were killed after their vehicle flipped over near the Losail International Circuit on Friday have been identified as Egyptian expats who worked for the Grand Hyatt Doha.

The deceased, who worked as shisha attendants, had been traveling in a minivan that was taking them from their accommodation to the hotel when it turned over.

In a statement sent to Doha News, the hotel said:

“Grand Hyatt Doha’s management and associates are saddened by the tragic road accident that took the life of 3 of their shisha partner’s associates on 10 July 2015 while transporting them from their accommodation to the hotel. Grand Hyatt Doha extends its heartfelt sympathy and support to the victims of the accident and their families.”

The hotel declined to give the names and ages of the men, whose bodies are understood to have been repatriated this week.

When reached for information, a representative at the Egyptian Embassy in Doha said no information about the deceased could be shared as the accident was a personal matter related to the victims’ families.

What happened

According to the Peninsula, the accident took place at around 4:30 pm Friday on Al Khor Road, next to the Lusail Race Track.

The driver apparently lost control of the car after one of the tires burst, causing the vehicle to flip over.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Irfaan Raskin/via Qatar Day

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

He and other passengers in the minivan were rushed to the hospital, and are currently being treated for their injuries.

Accidents from burst tires of vehicles going at high speeds are not uncommon in Qatar, and have resulted in several road deaths over the past few years.

Some of the more high-profile incidents include the death of three Nepali construction workers and a 17-year-old Indonesian expat in 2013, and four Hamad Medical Corp. employees, including a pregnant woman, in 2011.

Especially during the summer months, government officials here have encouraged residents to ensure their vehicles are properly maintained to improve safety on the roads.

Thoughts?