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This is a while ago but it has been bugging me now and then.

On September 11 2011 (yes exactly 10 years after 9/11!) I was flying Easyjet 3467 from London Stansted Airport (STN) to Copenhagen (CPH). Scheduled departure was 18:40 local time but the flight was heavily delayed (around 4 hours as I recall) due to another bizarre incident.

Anyway, as we were finally sitting in the plane and taxiing, suddenly the pilot announces that he just got info that another airplane had been heading to land just where we were and had only been some 60 seconds away! A lot of passengers seemed to gasp for air and the pilot sounded quite shocked as well. But there was no other explanation added.

Is there a database of such events so I could look up more about what happened?

I found the flight on FlightStats (sign in required) but there were no real info.

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    $\begingroup$ I cannot find anything in avherald, which is one of the leading sources for incident reporting: avherald.com/… $\endgroup$ – SentryRaven Nov 10 '14 at 19:29
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    $\begingroup$ Runway incursion? not common, but not unheard of. Usually caused by mixup between ground control and the tower. $\endgroup$ – ratchet freak Nov 10 '14 at 19:30
  • $\begingroup$ OK thanks didn't know avherald.com. But yeah can't find it either. Maybe it wasn't so serious after all or it didn't get reported. I will lookup runway incursion. Thx :) $\endgroup$ – Morty Nov 10 '14 at 19:45
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    $\begingroup$ Why on earth would a pilot announce that and panic people? Surely you have misunderstood and he was explaining a delay or something like that? $\endgroup$ – JamesRyan Nov 11 '14 at 12:15
  • $\begingroup$ @JamesRyan: I agree and of course it is a possibility I misunderstood. But as I mentioned, the rest of the passengers gasped for air. Of course it could be he just told a joke and I sort of misunderstood the whole situation. That's why I would have liked to find a written record etc. of it (if it exists) because it has been nagging me over the years $\endgroup$ – Morty Nov 11 '14 at 20:23
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No, you were not nearly involved in an accident.

If the flight crew is ready to go, an Airbus A320 takes about 40-50 seconds from the moment take-off clearance is given until lift-off. As soon as the aircraft is off the runway, the next one can land. On some busy airports, 60 seconds between take-off clearance and the next landing is a daily occurrence.

In 60 seconds, there is a lot that can prevent an accident. For example, ATC could instruct the incoming aircraft to go around should the departing traffic not be ready to take-off. This is quite a normal event which happens every day at busy airports around the world. In such a case, the aircraft ready for take-off would have to wait for the incoming traffic to pass overhead. It sounds like you may have experienced such an event.

Here is a video of something similar happening in Birmingham.

Since it is a 'normal' event, there is no central database that tracks these issues.

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    $\begingroup$ Great answer. I wonder why would the pilot announce that then? $\endgroup$ – Matthew Lock Nov 11 '14 at 0:16
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    $\begingroup$ @MatthewLock Even if it was an exceptionally unusual occurrence, the pilot's announcement did nothing other than create unnecessary concern among the passengers. $\endgroup$ – David Richerby Nov 11 '14 at 1:07
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidRicherby That's exactly why he's wondering why the pilot announced it. $\endgroup$ – Nit Nov 11 '14 at 1:51
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    $\begingroup$ @Nit the whole statement "finally ... taxiing ... just where we were" seems fishy. Most airports aircraft don't start taxiing anywhere close to where aircraft land. Seems either a case of bad memory or a pilot making a very bad joke. $\endgroup$ – jwenting Nov 11 '14 at 7:09
  • $\begingroup$ If a departing aircraft is not yet off the ground when an arriving aircraft reaches decision height inbound for the same runway, wouldn't the arriving aircraft need to go around? $\endgroup$ – reirab Nov 11 '14 at 7:19
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The term you want to look for is not "accident", but "incident".

To figure out whether or not a situation qualifies as an “aircraft accident” we must look to the definitions in Part 830. The NTSB defines an “aircraft accident” to mean “an occurrence associated with the operation of an aircraft which takes place between the time any person boards the aircraft with the intention of flight and all such persons have disembarked, and in which any person suffers death or serious injury, or in which the aircraft receives substantial damage.” The first portion of this definition is especially important to note for maintenance and ramp personnel. The initial threshold for classification as an aircraft accident is that the aircraft is being operated “with the intention of flight.”

Since no injury or damage occurred, the even would be classified as an "incident".


In the US, NASA runs the Aviation Safety Reporting System, a publicly searchable database of accidents and incidents. The data are mostly about events in the US, although some international incidents are included as well. The incident you mentioned doesn't appear.

The European equivalent appears to be ECCAIRS. Unfortunately, access to that database is "restricted to authorized authorities."

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for info - could anyone with ECCAIRS access look it up? Any other suggestion of how I might obtain more info? Maybe I should contact the airport og airliner? $\endgroup$ – Morty Nov 11 '14 at 10:00
  • $\begingroup$ By the way, not sure if I agree about the incident/accident distinction. If what the pilot said was true it would have been an incident. My question specifically asks if I was nearly involved in an accident, i.e. what could have been the outcome of this incident under the right (wrong) circumstances. $\endgroup$ – Morty Nov 11 '14 at 10:05
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There was probably no incident.

It just means your plane was ready to take off and had to wait longer than expected. Whenever a plane is ready to go the controller has to decide whether he can let it go or should wait for an incoming plane. The controller was probably just playing it safe and decided to make your plane wait, so the pilot got a little exasperated, "Sorry folks, got to wait for another plane to land."

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