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Accident description
Last updated: 17 October 2017
Status:Final
Date:Friday 29 January 1971
Time:21:37
Type:Silhouette image of generic B721 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Boeing 727-76
Operator:Trans Australia Airlines - TAA
Registration: VH-TJA
C/n / msn: 18741/72
First flight: 1964-08-25 (6 years 5 months)
Crew:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 8
Passengers:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 84
Total:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 92
Airplane damage: Substantial
Airplane fate: Repaired
Location:Sydney-Kingsford Smith International Airport, NSW (SYD) (   Australia)
Phase: Takeoff (TOF)
Nature:Domestic Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Sydney-Kingsford Smith International Airport, NSW (SYD/YSSY), Australia
Destination airport:Perth Airport, WA (PER/YPPH), Australia
Flightnumber: 592
Narrative:
A Boeing 727, operated by Trans Australia Airlines, and a Douglas DC-8, operated by CP Air, both sustained substantial damage in a runway collision at Sydney-Kingsford Smith International Airport, NSW (SYD), Australia. There were no injuries.
At 21:29 hours local time on 29 January 1971, the flight crew of the Boeing 727 aircraft, registered VH-TJA, called the surface movement controller in Sydney Tower, informed him that they were Flight 592 and requested a clearance to taxi from the loading apron. It was cleared to taxy to the holding point for runway 16.
At 21:30:20 hours the crew of the DC-8-63 aircraft, registered CF-CPQ, first called the aerodrome controller in Sydney Tower, having just left 3,000 feet at the West Pymble locator on an Instrument Landing System (ILS) approach to runway 16. The crew were instructed to report again at the outer marker.
Whilst CF-CPQ was on short finals, the crew of VH-TJA informed the aerodrome controller at 21:33:47 hours, that they were ready to take off. The DC-8 had been cleared to land and VH-TJA was instructed to line-up on the runway behind that aircraft.
After CF-CPQ was observed to pass the threshold of the runway, the crew of VH-TJA proceeded to line-up and await their clearance for takeoff.
As the landing DC8-63 aircraft neared the end of its landing run, the aerodrome controller instructed it to "...take taxiway right-call on 121.7" and this instruction was acknowledged. The crew of the Canadian aircraft, however, later stated that they read this instruction as "-backtrack if you like-change to 121.7" and they proceeded to turn the aircraft right about on the runway and to taxy back directly towards the Boeing 727. The landing run of CF-CPQ finished directly opposite the entrance to Taxiway I, which leads off to the right from runway 16.
The turn was carried out opposite the entrance to Taxiway T. The aerodrome controller saw the landing run of CF-CPQ finish opposite the taxiway and saw the aircraft turn towards the taxiway.
When he believed that, in conformity with his instructions, the aircraft had entered the taxiway and was clear of the runway, he cleared VH-TJA for takeoff. This clearance was given at 21:35:38 hours.
By then the flight crew of CF-CPQ had changed to the surface movement control radio frequency, 121.7 so were not able to hear the clearance for takeoff issued to VH-TJA.
Soon after the DC-8 captain commenced to backtrack down the centre of the runway he noticed that the aircraft, whose landing lights he had already seen near the threshold of runway 16 was, in fact, coming towards him. He immediately increased power and commenced to steer his aircraft off the runway towards its eastern side. Before he could vacate the runway, however, but at about the time that the nose of his aircraft reached the eastern edge, the approaching aircraft, which he watched rotate and lift off, flew over the top of CF-CPQ. He felt a jolt which he interpreted as his nosewheel entering a depression off the edge of the runway or, alternatively, over-running an elevated runway light but, the immediate danger having passed, he then steered his aircraft back towards the centreline of the runway.
The flight crew of VH-TJA did not see the DC-8 until they had commenced the rotation action for which the nominated speed was 131 knots. The captain judged it too close to be avoided by abandoning
the takeoff and so continued a normal takeoff technique, guarding particularly against any over-rotation, in the belief that this would be the best means of clearing the obstructing aircraft.
As CF-CPQ taxied towards the eastern edge of the runway in order to avoid the on-coming aircraft, the sweep of his landing lights was observed in the control tower and the surface movement controller, believing that the aircraft was commencing a turn from Taxiway V into Taxiway A, which leads back onto the runway, instructed the aircraft, first of all, to "hold position" and then "...continue straight ahead along the taxiway and cross runway 07". By this time, however, the crew of CF-CPQ had observed the landing lights of a DC-9 aircraft, VH-TJN, which was approaching to land on runway 16. They pointed this out to the surface movement controller who then asked them to confirm that they were on the taxiway and the answer given from CF-CPQ was "Negative sir, we're on the runway, we were cleared to backtrack on the runway". The approaching DC-9 aircraft was instructed immediately to go around and the crew of CF-CPQ were given fresh instructions to vacate the runway at the next taxiway on their left.
It was at about this time that the crew of VH-TJA informed the aerodrome controller that they had struck the DC-8 during their takeoff and that they had lost hydraulic pressure in their "A" system, which is one of the primary hydraulic systems of the aircraft. This aircraft then proceeded to an off-shore position to dump fuel and returned for a successful landing on runway 16 at 22:16:30 hours.
The crew of CF-CPQ was informed of the report that the departing aircraft had struck them but, since there was no indication in the cockpit of abnormal operation, they continued to their parking position. Here it was observed that substantial portions of the upper fin and rudder were missing from the aircraft.

Probable Cause:

CAUSE: "The cause of this accident was that the taxying clearance given after landing was misread by the flight crew of CF-CPQ and this error was not detected by the aerodrome controller, who cleared VH-TJA for take-off. The flight crew of VH-TJA, on detecting the obstructing aircraft, did not then adopt the most effective means of avoiding a collision."

Accident investigation:
cover
Investigating agency: ASIB
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 184 days (6 months)
Accident number: jan-71
Download report: Final report

Classification:
Runway incursion
Forced landing on runway

Photos

photo of Boeing 727-76 VH-TJA
Graphic showing point of collision
photo of Boeing 727-76 VH-TJA
photo of Boeing 727-76 VH-TJA
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Map
This map shows the airport of departure and the intended destination of the flight. The line between the airports does not display the exact flight path.
Distance from Sydney-Kingsford Smith International Airport, NSW to Perth Airport, WA as the crow flies is 3268 km (2042 miles).

This information is not presented as the Flight Safety Foundation or the Aviation Safety Network’s opinion as to the cause of the accident. It is preliminary and is based on the facts as they are known at this time.
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