SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A mistake by air traffic control is believed to have caused two passenger planes to collide on the ground at Schiphol airport on Tuesday.
Local news outlet NH Nieuws said it had obtained a recording from the ATC tower of the incident, in which an easyJet Airbus A320 and a KLM Boeing 737 collided at low speed as they were being pushed back from the departure gates.
Nobody was injured. In the audio fragment, the air traffic controller is heard apologising to the pilot of the easyJet plane straight after the collision happened at 7.15am.
‘Misunderstanding,’ he says, ‘I thought you were parked on the H-pier, but it’s now [gate] D25.’ EasyJet flights usually take off from the H-pier, but the plane in question had been given permission to park at the D gates.
NH Nieuws published a subtitled video of the incident without sound to protect the air traffic controller’s identity. The aviation police has interviewed both pilots, the ground controller and the air traffic controller on duty as part of their investigation into the incident.
Police have said alcohol did not play a role. It is the second time this year that aircraft have collided on the ground at Schiphol during pushback. An investigation is ongoing into the previous incident in February between two KLM planes.