Why It Matters

Changi safety vital for ops

At Changi Airport last Thursday, an Emirates Airbus 380 and Scoot Boeing 787 aircraft which were about to depart hit each other, damaging the wings of both planes.

The Emirates jet was being pushed out of a gate by a tow tug, while the Scoot aircraft, with the pilot in control, was taxiing to prepare for departure when the minor collision occurred. None of the more than 600 passengers on board was injured, but both planes remain grounded for repairs.

It is not every day that planes hit each other at Changi Airport. The last reported case was in June last year, when the tail cone of an SIA plane that was parked was damaged after it was hit by the wing of another SIA aircraft that was being towed.

Still, such incidents are a cause for concern, especially at major airports such as Changi, where a plane lands or takes off every 90 seconds.

Depending on the severity, airport operations can be impacted seriously.

 

When the Emirates and Scoot jets hit each other, it affected a Japan Airlines aircraft next to the Emirates jet. That plane had to be checked to make sure it was not damaged, and that delayed its departure.

Traffic at Changi, which handled a record number of 58.7 million passengers and 360,490 landings and take-offs last year, is expected to continue to grow in tandem with an increase in the demand for flights in the region.

This will strain runway, terminal and other resources in the next few years, even as plans are in place for a massive capacity injection when Terminal 5 starts operating at the end of the next decade.

A labour crunch has also put pressure on ground handlers, which are finding it tough to hire new people, pushing airports to turn to automation.

Changi Airport, which has started on automated airside vehicle trials, needs to move fast in this area.

Regular training and reminders are also critical to ensure that the safety message is drilled into all airport workers.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 03, 2017, with the headline 'Changi safety vital for ops'. Print Edition | Subscribe