The investigation was informed four days after the incident and was not able to interview the flight crew members
Did you know? In 2015, a Pakistani airline took off from the taxiway instead of the assigned runway from Sharjah International airport.
According to an investigation report released on April 25, on September 24, 2015, Shaheen Air International scheduled passenger flight number SAI791, operated by a Boeing 737-400 Aircraft, registration AP-BJR, departed from Sharjah International Airport (OMSJ), the United Arab Emirates, at 0239 local time (LT) to Bacha Khan International Airport (OPPS), Pakistan.
Instead of the assigned runway 30, the aircraft took off from the parallel taxiway Bravo. The investigation was informed four days after the incident and was not able to interview the flight crew members.
Using the aircraft flight data, and air traffic communications, the taxi route up to takeoff was determined, confirming that the flight did turn onto taxiway Bravo and departed from this taxiway.
The air traffic controller lost the visual watch on the plane as it taxied from taxiway Alpha 20 towards taxiway Bravo and regained sight of the aircraft on taxiway Bravo as it passed the taxiway Alpha 18 intersection. No attempt was made by ATC to stop the Aircraft during its take-off roll on the taxiway. The controller decision was to allow the takeoff to continue as the plane’s speed was unknown.
After takeoff, the flight crew were not informed about the taxiway takeoff and the flight continued for an uneventful landing at the destination airport.
The crew were made aware of the incident by the Aircraft Operator five days later, the report added.
The investigation could not determine why the flight crew did not notice that they had lined up on a taxiway, but the flight crew stated that they had no doubt, but that they were lined up on the runway and they never had reason to question the visible cues, including the lighting.
The difference between runway and taxiway lighting is significant yet this was not recognised by the flight crew.
The Air Accident Investigation Sector determined that the cause of the incident was that, most probably, the flight crew did not devote sufficient attention to the taxi route, or taxi route lighting and signage. The flight crew misunderstood the air traffic control instructions and failed to identify that the aircraft had been aligned on a taxiway, instead of on the runway, resulting in a takeoff from the taxiway.
Following the investigation, several safety recommendations were addressed to Shaheen Air International, Sharjah Aerodrome, Sharjah Air Traffic Services, and the General Civil Aviation Authority of the United Arab Emirates.