Fresh onto the list of Bulletin Reports on the AAIB website is that concerning an incident at Manchester Airport on the 5th August 2008, when there was contact between two aircraft: one, an Airbus A320, was stationary at holding point Juliet Alpha 1 waiting clearance to take off using Runway 24 Right, while the other, a Boeing 737-800, was attempting to pass behind the Airbus to then queue for the same runway, but at holding point Juliet 1.
Reading through the report, it is not difficult to deduce the names of the operators concerned. The Airbus was registered in Germany, and was operating a scheduled service to Frankfurt am Main: this was operated by Lufthansa. The Boeing was registered in Ireland, operating a service to Tenerife, and the Commander had flown a whopping 257 hours in the past 90 days, twice the amount of his Lufthansa counterpart: no prizes for identifying Ryanair, the Millwall of air carriers (everybody hates us and we don’t care).
The Airbus had stopped short of the marker bar for Juliet Alpha 1 – the pilot flying exercising caution and making sure that the bar was visible from the flight deck – and the Boeing’s Commander, who was also pilot flying, asked his co-pilot to confirm that there was sufficient clearance to pass. The reply, taken from the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) was initially “Yes, I think there is but ... I don’t know ... perhaps ... yes ... I can’t say”.
There wasn’t, and the right winglet of the Boeing struck the tail of the Airbus. Later, the Commander of the Boeing excused his actions by saying he assumed the other aircraft would move forward for take-off. Of course, he could just have erred on the side of caution and stopped, but that is not the Ryanair style, as I noted when checking out an incident at Stansted: there is too much “working by numbers” and a seemingly wilful desire to keep going and avoid delays.
Those intending to fly from Manchester will be reassured that operating procedures have been revised in the light of this incident, and in any case, there is little chance of Ryanair being involved in future, as they have pulled most of their flights out of this location.