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Miscommunication between tower/ATC and cockpit blamed for Ethiopian Airlines B767–300ER FLT. ET 815 Unscheduled Landing at Arusha airport.

While the authorities are still  investigating circumstances which led the ET-AQW  B767 to land  at Arusha Airport instead of KIA , clues have emerged that the incident can be accounted as due to miscommunication between the pilots of FLT ET 815 and the tower at KIA.

According to a statement by the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA) Director General, Mr. Fadhil J. Manongi, the aircraft was scheduled to land at Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) at 1255 pm.
The aircraft established radio contact with Kilimanjaro Control Tower at 1229pm and was instructed to continue with his flight and report when having the airport (KIA) in sight. Thereafter the pilot reported having the field in sight and was allowed to continue visually to enable him land in westward direction (runway 27).

After the pilot reported on left base of runway 27 (and having the field in sight), the Air Traffic Controller cleared the aircraft for landing. The Air Traffic Controller after a while without sighting the aircraft tried in vain to re-established radio contact with the aircraft and was later informed by Arusha Air Traffic Controller that an aircraft (Boeing 767) was landing at Arusha Airport runway 27.

There was no emergency reported by the crew of Ethiopian Airline flight ET 815.

Kilimanjaro Airport was available, although with a displaced runway. The displacement was due to a disabled light aircraft on the Runway. KIA has a total runway length of 3,600 meters. The displacement left the runway length available for use of 3,200 meters. The crews of flight ET 815 were informed of this information by the operating Air Traffic Controller.

The full statement can be accessed from TCAA website.

On the other side, heads are now cracking on how will the plane fly out from Arusha which has a runway of 1,640 meters long, which is short for safe operation of this type of aircraft. The aircraft type requires at least 1,798 meters to land with maximum landing weight. But to takeoff,normal operations the Boeing 767-300ER requires a runway with a minimum length of 2,713 meters.

According to ET experts among the options to be considered to enable the huge jet to fly out include removing the fuel and some items on board or even extending the runaway.  

Other sources reports that, by 4pm yesterday, engineers had put the plane on one end of the runway, but it was not clear when they will attempt to fly it from the airport. A team of six engineers from the aircraft owners in Ethiopia arrived in Arusha yesterday and were joined by others from the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA) and Tanzania Airports Authority (TAA).
The aircraft with registration number ET-AQW was operating a regular scheduled flight ET 815 from Addis Ababa to Kilimanjaro and thereafter was supposed to proceed to Mombasa. It had 213 passengers and crew on board and they were all safe and evacuated via emergency escape chutes.

ET-AQW has eventually taken off successfully from Arusha Airport. Further updates will follow. 


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