Portuguese investigators said that they will investigate a near-miss incident involving Ryanair Boeing 737-800 NextGeneration (NG) and Azores Airlines Airbus A321neo at Porto Francisco de Sa Carneiro Airport (OPO), Portugal.
Office for the Prevention and Investigation of Accidents in Civil Aviation and Rail (Gabinete de Prevenção e Investição de Acidentes com Aeronaves e de Acidentes Ferroviários, GPIAAF) has classified the occurrence, which took place at OPO on June 26, 2023, as a ‘loss of separation’. Loss of separation happens when two aircraft breach specified vertical or horizontal minimums in controlled airspace.
According to the GPIAAF’s early observations, as shared in its Quarterly Bulletin Publication, the Ryanair Boeing 737-800 NG, registered as EI-DLX, descended to 275 feet Above Ground Level (AGL) at a distance of 950 meters from the beginning of runway 35, where the Azores Airlines Airbus A321neo, registered as CS-TSI, was located.
The Ryanair 737-800 was performing flight FR4585 from Barcelona El Prat Airport (BCN), Spain to OPO, while the Azores Airlines A321neo was preparing to take off on flight S46473 to Porto Santo Airport (PXO), Madeira, Portugal.
Prior to the loss of separation, the A321neo was authorized by local Air Traffic Control (ATC) to line up on runway 35 at OPO behind landing traffic on a short final and await clearance. After all the aircraft then on their short finals had landed, the Azores Airlines aircraft lined up on the runway and awaited take-off instructions from ATC.
At the same time, the Ryanair aircraft was on its final approach on the same runway. With less than 30 seconds remaining before it landed, the pilot of the 737-800 contacted ATC and promptly received wind information and landing clearance on runway 35.
The pilot of the Boeing 737, after he had noticed the A321neo on the runway, asked ATC to confirm whether there was an aircraft on runway 35, continued the GPIAAF’s report, adding that ATC instructed the Ryanair pilots to initiate a go-around “about 13 seconds before flying over the threshold of runway 35”.
“GPIAAF, in fulfilling its assigned functions and competencies, is gathering additional information about the event,” the Portuguese investigators stated, noting that there were no injuries to the occupants of either aircraft.