On August 22, 2019, a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Boeing 777-200LR had struck a towbar on the runway at Birmingham, moments after beginning to taxi. The aircraft was preparing to depart from Birmingham airport when the incident happened.
UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch had launched an inquiry into the matter on the request of PIA. And now, nine months after the incident, UK investigators have found that the flight crew was partially responsible for the incident.
As per the findings, the tug and towbar had been disconnected from the aircraft but were still in front of the jet when it began taxing.
Investigators determined that the tug parked to the left of the aircraft’s nose was visible to the 777 crew, who assumed that the ground personnel had left.
But the ground personnel – blocked from the pilots’ view – were positioning the towbar behind the tug, ready for removal.
Resultantly, the captain had the first officer request for taxi clearance, without checking with air traffic control if all ground personnel were clear. The report said that the aircraft began to move even before receiving the final all-clear hand signal.
The report mentioned that the Boeing began to move forward just 23 seconds after the towbar was disconnected. This normally takes around two to three minutes.
Shortly after starting to move, the aircraft struck the towbar and the crew stopped and applied the parking brake.
Soon after the incident, a ground engineer inspected the aircraft and cleared it for departure.