External cameras should be installed on large airliners to help pilots prevent ground collisions, the
recommended today, citing three recent accidents, including one in May at O’Hare International Airport.
Collisions while planes are taxiing to runways or parking ramps or being pushed back from gates -- typically involving wingtips of large planes striking the wingtips or tail sections of other aircraft or jet bridges, poles or ground vehicles -- have been a problem in the airline industry for years, according to experts.
The introduction years ago of ground personnel called “wing walkers” who escort planes into and out of parking areas outside terminals has significantly reduced the number of taxiing accidents, officials said.
But the growing mix of jumbo jets and small regional jets on increasingly congested airfields worries safety officials. All three recent accidents, at O’Hare, Boston Logan International Airport and
in New York, involved large jets and commuter-style planes. The pilots of the large planes could not easily view the airplanes’ wingtips from the cockpit, according to preliminary information from all three accidents, NTSB investigators said.
The O’Hare incident
when the right wingtip of a Boeing 747 cargo plane operated by EVA Air was taxiing and struck the rudder and vertical stabilizer of an American Eagle
135 regional jet, according to the NTSB, which is investigating the accident.
The safety board recommended today that the
require airlines to equip their large planes with anti-ground-collision devices, such as externally mounted cameras, to provide pilots with a clear view of the plane’s wingtips while taxiing. The safety board said cameras should be installed on new planes and that the existing fleet should be retrofitted with cameras.
“While collision warning systems are now common in highway vehicles, it is important for the aviation industry to consider their application in large aircraft,’’ said NTSB chairwoman Deborah Hersman.
The FAA did not immediately respond to the NTSB recommendations.
The safety board said it has investigated 12 accidents since 1993 that occurred during taxi when a large plane’s wingtip collided with another plane or object on the taxiway.
Although low-speed ground collisions do not pose the biggest aviation risk from a fatality standpoint, there is the potential for catastrophic accidents because wings are storage tanks for jet fuel, officials said.