The right winglet of a taxiing Boeing 737-8AS detached when it collided with the tail of another Boeing 737-8AS being pushed back from the apron at London Stansted Airport. Both aircraft were manoeuvring in accordance with ATC instructions. The APU of the aircraft being pushed back was severely damaged and some fuel leaked onto the apron. There was no fire and all persons onboard later disembarked without injury.
The controller had not appreciated that the pushback approval he had issued conflicted with his earlier instruction to another aircraft; there was no monitoring or warning system to alert him. The pilots of the taxiing aircraft did not discern that the controller’s instructions caused confliction and only noticed the other aircraft’s movement at the last moment. Hand signals were used as the pushback team had no headset to communicate with the pilots on the flight deck and there was no guide person to check for hazards to the rear and right of the aircraft that was being pushed.
Since the accident, safety actions have been taken by the operator, the air traffic control agency, the regulator and the ground handling company. There are therefore no AAIB Safety Recommendations.