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Bristol airport runway chaos blamed on poor risk assessment

The chaos that dogged Bristol airport runway for a short period two years ago has been blamed on poor risk assessment in a new report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB).

Between December 2006 and January 2007, thousands of journeys were disrupted or cancelled when pilots from 10 airlines refused to use the airport after some reported skidding on the runway and others veered off the taxiway in high cross winds due to a lack of grip.

The disruptions were due to contractor Lagan Construction temporarily reducing grip while it resurfaced a 300m long section of the runway.

While carrying out this work the base course was not grooved. It is a requirement for the wearing course of runways to have grooves etched in them to improve drainage and grip.

In today's report the AAIB criticises airport operator Bristol International Airport's (BIA) risk assessment of the work which "had not adequately addressed the hazards presented to aircraft operating on the temporary surfaces in wet and windy weather".

In response a BIA spokesman said: "The Airport consulted at length with the Civil Aviation Authority before the runway resurfacing began and engaged the leading expert designers, engineers and contractors in this specialist field. Standard industry practices were followed and aircraft operators were kept informed of the work in progress."

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