UK-bound easyJet flight carrying 149 passengers narrowly avoided disaster after pilots 'forgot' runway had been shortened by engineering works
Calculations for take-off were mistakenly based on the normal runway length
Pilots did not understand a pre-flight announcement in 'heavily-accented English' in the Czech Republic

Olivia Williams


01:39 GMT, 14 February 2013



04:21 GMT, 14 February 2013

Pilots of an easyJet flight returning to the UK from Prague started take-off forgetting that temporary works had considerably reduced the runway.

The pilots of the easyJet Airbus, with 149 passengers aboard, only realised their mistake when they saw the temporary runway end come into view, an accident report said today.

The plane approached the works closer than intended on its flight back to Stansted, but managed to take off at planned speeds, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) reported.

Budget airline easyJet

Budget airline easyJet narrowly avoided disaster in Prague when the pilot did not notice the significantly reduced runway length until take-off was already in progress

In their pre-flight package the crew saw a notice to airmen for Prague airport that works had reduced the runway length from 3,715 metres to 2,500 metres.

Before take-off, the pilots had listened to a terminal information broadcast, 'but it was reportedly in heavily-accented English', the AAIB report said.

The report went on: 'The pilots had forgotten the content of the notice to airmen.'

'The airport details copied by the co-pilot to the paper flight plan did not contain any reference to the reduced length, and their take-off calculations were based upon take-off using the normal length.

'The commander later attributed the oversight to reduced crew awareness at the end of a lengthy duty period.'

The captain also considered that the presence of manuals showing both the normal and reduced lengths of the runway had contributed to the incident.

Charles Bridge, Prague, Czech Republic

Popular with Brits: passengers returning Prague in the Czech Republic to Stansted did not realise the potential danger of their take-off, but the report said it was a 'serious incident'

'The captain also noted that the crew's pre-flight activities had been interrupted by a visit to the flight deck by an acquaintance and thought that this distraction may also have been a factor.'

The AAIB added that the works on the runway were not easily visible to the crew at the start of the take-off and as the aircraft had landed on another runway when reaching Prague the crew had not noticed the works.

The captain had noted later that 'there were no warnings from air traffic control or ground signage indicating that the runway length was reduced.'