NEWS Cargo plane nearly lands on runway under construction at Sharjah Airport

Lit cross mark positioned before the new runway threshold marks at Sharjah (GCAA)
Lit cross mark positioned before the new runway threshold marks at Sharjah (GCAA)

A Sudanese IL-76 cargo plane almost landed on a runway under construction at Sharjah Airport, an incident report revealed.
A Badr Airlines Ilyushin IL-76TD, ST-BDN, operated flight BDR7625 from Khartoum, Sudan, to Sharjah, the United Arab Emirates. There were four flight crewmembers, one ground engineer, and one loadmaster onboard. On the approach to Sharjah, a go-around was flown as the aircraft had been aligned to carry out an approach to a runway which was still under construction instead of to the active runway 30.

The BDR7625 crew had requested a visual approach from Dubai Arrival Air Traffic Control who confirmed the request and instructed the crew to descend to 2,000 ft and to report ready for visual. When BDR7625 was abeam Sharjah Airport, the Approach Controller instructed the crew to report the field in-sight, ready for a visual approach. BDR7625 confirmed the instruction correctly.

At approximately 8 miles, BDR7625 was transferred from Dubai Approach to Sharjah Tower. At approximately 03:19 UTC, BDR7625 contacted Sharjah Tower for the first time stating that the aircraft was approximately six miles from the runway. The Tower replied giving the QNH, surface wind as calm, and cleared BDR7625 to land on runway 30. The Tower also gave instructions to vacate runway 30 via taxiway Bravo. The instructions were read back correctly by the crew.
BDR7625 continued the final approach until shortly before the beginning of the inactive new runway. When the Aircraft was at a late point in the approach, the captain realized, by observing the cross marks painted on the runway, that the runway was not in operation.
The construction workers who were assigned to perform work on the beginning of the new runway rapidly vacated the area when they observed the aircraft approaching the wrong runway at low level of approximately 50 ft, and at a distance of approximately 0.3 miles from the threshold. As the aircraft passed over construction equipment on the new runway one piece of construction equipment weighing about one ton was moved by the jetblast.
The investigation concluded that the causes of the incident were:

  • the inability of the flight crew to identify the correct landing surface;
  • the crew had followed an incorrect airport chart contained in the Jeppesen Airway Manual that was not yet effective on the date of the Incident;
  • the inadequate dispatch briefing which did not provide sufficient information and draw attention to a temporary revised page in the Jeppesen Airway Manual;
  • the insufficient CRM among the flight crewmembers;
  • and the confusing Aeronautical Information Circular (AIC) statement and Jeppesen runway information which improperly depicted a chart that reflected the future runway configuration.

Contributing factors to the Incident were:

  • the insufficient visual observation of the BDR7625 approach by the Tower Controller;
  • the lack of information provided by the Approach Controller to the Tower Controller that BDR7625 was flying a visual approach and was entering his control area;
  • and the insufficient testing and training provided to the Tower Controller to enable him to differentiate as to which runway an aircraft was aligned with.

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