On 12 February 2007, an Airbus A319-100 being operated by British Airways on a scheduled passenger flight into London Heathrow made unintended contact in normal daylight visibility with the stationary airbridge at the arrival gate. This followed an emergency stop made after seeing hand signals from ground staff whilst following SEGS indications which appeared to suggest that there was a further 5 metres to run to the correct parking position. There was no damage to the aircraft, only minimal damage to the airbridge and there were no injuries to the aircraft occupants or any other person.
An Investigation was carried out by the UK AAIB. It was found that the airport operator had issued an airside works instruction in respect of the gate involved which required a marshaller to attend but there was no corresponding Notice To Airmen and no marshaller actually attended. Because the allocated Turn Round Manager (TRM) provided by the aircraft operator, and who was responsible for switching on the SEGS once the ramp area had been visually checked for any obvious obstructions, had not been made aware of the requirement for a marshaller, the SEGS was activated. It was noted that flight crew employed by this operator are strictly prohibited from taxiing onto a nose gate unless either the SEGS has been switched on or a marshaller is present. On this occasion, the aircraft commander noted the activated SEGS and considered upon visual inspection, that the airbridge was sufficiently clear.
The Investigation established that, despite being unable to find any instruction not to activate the SEGS, the TRM had continued to have some reservations about the parked position of the out of service airbridge. On seeing that the aircraft’s left wing tip was about to strike the airbridge, the TRM and a colleague respectively gave the ‘stop’ sign to the aircraft crew and activated the stop button on the SEGS. The aircraft commander reacted quickly from a slow taxi speed and stopped the aircraft four metres short of the designated stop line, during which the left wing tip made contact with only the curtain on the airbridge.
The Final Report was published on 7 February 2008 and may be seen in full at SKYbrary bookshelf: AAIB Bulletin 2/2008 EW/C2007/02/03
One Safety Recommendation was made:
“It is recommended that the airport operator, Heathrow Airport Limited, should implement a policy to disable the Stand Entry Guidance system on any stand which has restrictions placed on its use” (2007-102)