Nearly a catastrophic collision at Geneva airport.

On Friday 24 July 2015 there was almost a catastrophic collision between an Airbus taking off and a Cessna jet taxiing. How near?

This morning, Friday 31 August, watching the RTS Info on my TV at 7am, there was a reference to a serious incident a week ago. The broadcaster said that it was at about 8h47 am, but my investigation showed that it was actually at 10h47 am (a mix-up between Universal Time and Geneva Summer Time). An analysis of the transponder emissions of the two aircraft shows just how near to a catastrophe this was: here is the explanation.

At 10:45:48 the Cessna 525 registered as N990FV, owned by Aero Service Turbillon Corp, based in Delaware, which was stationary at the General Aviation Centre on the Jura side of the main runway, started to move to cross the main runway.

At 10:47:05 it was just over 50 metres from the runway and moving at 10.5 knots. This would mean that it would arrive on the main runway in under 10 seconds!

At 10:47:13 the Airbus A320 of Aer Lingus, flight EI681 going to Dublin, was on the runway, about 100 metres short of the exact spot where the Cessna would cross the runway, and was moving at a speed of 125 knots.


According to the frantic dialogue of the air traffic control tower, obtained by the radio program (1h05 after the start of the radio emission, which started at 6am), the Cessna was urgently instructed to hold its position. The traffic controller was highly relieved when the pilot of the Airbus said that he managed to go to the right of the Cessna, which might suggest that the Cessna had actually got part way onto the runway.

According to the radio, the pilot of the Cessna had not been authorised to cross the runway. However, the full section of the dialogue prior to the incident, and which would verify this statement, is unavailable.

The lessons of this incident? Since "errare est humanum", and given that there are many such crossings, perhaps an underpass taxiway should be built between the two sides of the runway!

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