Many passengers on the Ryanair flight from Barcelona to Ibiza thought the Ryanair Boeing 737-800 collided with an American Airlines 767-300 on runway 25L as the two aircraft were maneuvering on the ground. However, passengers who witnessed the incident failed to prevent the aircraft departing due to after poor crew communication, which made pilots believe that the jets had not collided.
Spanish investigation authority CIAIAC said the severity of the incident went unrecognised due to "deficiencies in the communications" between cabin crew and the pilots. Both aircraft subsequently took off without taking any action after the reported collision.
The 737 was later discovered to have a scratched starboard winglet while the 767 had a gash in its outboard left-hand horizontal stabiliser. The two aircraft were immediately withdrawn from service and taken for repair.
A CIAIAC representative said,
Several passengers nervously looked out the windows on the right side. They were speaking in Spanish, so the cabin crew did not understand very well what they were saying. Another passenger told them in English that some passengers thought they had hit the other [aircraft]."
However, the message was not properly relayed to the cockpit.
A CIAIAC representative added,
The captain was under the impression that only one passenger had witnessed the contact, and not several as she later discovered. She said that her decision to continue with the flight would probably have been different if she had known that several passengers had reported contact.
CIAIAC added, "During the flight to Ibiza several passengers expressed their unease over the incident to the cabin crew, but at no point did the [flight attendants] contact the pilots to convey the passengers' concerns." It turned out that both pilots were not aware of the collision and the damage to the aircraft.
According to Ryanair's procedures, cabin crew are expected to ensure that pilots are informed about all problems.
CIAIAC has recommended that Ryanair review its training for on-board communications.