The UK Air Accident Investigation Agency (AAIB) released its final report regarding a dangerous situation that occurred at Birmingham Airport (BHX) in England on September 8, 2020.
Around 22:00, local time, ground workers finished carrying out maintenance operations on some approach lights. Once their truck was off the runway, landings resumed at the airport.
The first aircraft to land was a Ryanair Boeing 737, registered as EI-DPC. Two minutes later, another Boeing 737, G-GDFR, operated by Jet2 followed. The second flight crew reported to the air traffic controller (ATC) that they may have seen “something” in the touchdown zone. The Ryanair pilots confirmed the report, though both crews could not be “certain that it was not paint markings.”
The ATC requested that an Airfield Safety Unit (ASU) vehicle be prepared to perform a runway inspection and warned the following flight, a Boeing 757, of TUI registration G-OOBA, which was on its final approach. The flight crew chose to continue their landing.
After the 757 successfully landed, the pilots confirmed that there was a foreign object on the runway, “possibly a ladder.” The ASU vehicle was immediately dispatched to recover what happened to be a 7 feet A-frame step ladder.
The investigation found that as the maintenance crew drove across the airport runway 33, the step ladder fell from their pickup truck onto the touchdown zone. That mishap was traced back to the use of an inappropriate bungee strap to secure the tools in the back of the truck. “More suitable securing equipment was available although not readily to hand,” states the report.
The AAIB issued several recommendations to the ground workers, including a review of the equipment and vehicle being used.