Essex

Distracted pilot left towbar on Southend Airport runway

Cessna 210 Centurion Image copyright Getty/Bettmann
Image caption The pilot of the Cessna 210 Centurion (similar to the one pictured here) left the towbar on the runway by accident while he was distracted

An aircraft towbar was left on a runway by a pilot who had experienced a "close shave" driving to the airport, an investigators' report said.

The Cessna towbar fell onto the runway departing from London Southend Airport on 7 August.

Its pilot said he had been distracted during his pre-flight checks by an earlier near-miss between his motorcycle and a cyclist.

A plane that landed later ran over the towbar, but no damage was caused.

Image copyright AAIB
Image caption The report found the blue towbar was "inconspicuous" as it did not have reflective or high visibility markings

According to a report by the Air Accidents Investigations Branch (AAIB), a cyclist had pulled out in front of the pilot on his way to the airport, which he described as "a fright and a close shave".

About 30 minutes into his flight "it occurred to him that he could not positively remember removing and stowing the towbar".

He immediately reported his concern to be passed on to the airport and said: "The towbar is a small stowable unit... but it is quite obvious and I cannot believe that I missed it."

In the report it noted the pilot said he had been distracted by the earlier motorcycle incident which had been "on his mind".

The aircraft which ran over the towbar was an Embraer 145 carrying 35 passengers from Aberdeen.

Two other aircraft and a vehicle making an inspection for wildlife also used the runway during the 30 minutes the towbar was left in the way, but none of them hit it.

The report said the blue towbar was difficult to see against the ground surface and the AAIB has "recommended that the Civil Aviation Authority communicate to the general aviation community the importance of increasing the visibility of ground equipment".

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