By Dan Lake
The Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) released a report confirming pilots for LAN Airlines were at fault for the destruction of seven runway lights at Auckland Airport in May 2013.
The report says a LAN Airlines Airbus A340 was departing for Sydney with 196 passengers and eight crew, and while the flight was early in the morning and dark, visibility was good.
The pilot lined-up the 75-metre long aircraft on what he thought was the centre line of the runway, but it was actually the lights on the edge of the runway.
As the captain accelerated he realised the aircraft was aligned incorrectly and steered it back onto the centre line.
However, the crew didn’t report the incident to air traffic control after take-off -- and it wasn’t until a runway inspection that damage was discovered.
Seven lights were damaged and needed to be replaced and the runway was closed for 20 minutes so debris could be removed.
When the LAN Airlines flight arrived in Sydney an inspection revealed two tyres needed to be replaced.
The TAIC report said the pilots lost awareness of their precise location while conducting last-minute checks.
The commission has made recommendations to the Civil Aviation Authority and Auckland International Airport to address any safety issues arising from the incident
The report said it’s essential for pilots to report any suspicion of runway debris as soon as possible.
LAN Airlines have been contacted for comment.