Air Asia Losing its Way
The following article is extracted from the West Australian of 7 September 2016
Passengers on a flight from Sydney to Kuala Lumpur found themselves in Melbourne after the captain put in the wrong position at take-off, an Australian accident investigation report has found.
This morning the Australian Transport Safety Bureau issued its findings into the incident in March last year involving an AirAsia X Airbus A330, registered 9M-XXM operating from Sydney to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The report said that on departure from runway 16R the aircraft was observed by air traffic control to enter the departure flight path of the parallel runway 16L.
Following advice from air traffic control, the flight crew identified a problem with the on-board navigation systems.
However, the report said that attempts to troubleshoot and rectify the problem resulted in further degradation of the navigation system, as well as to the aircraft’s flight guidance and flight control systems.
The crew then elected to discontinue the flight but were unable to return to Sydney as the weather had deteriorated in the Sydney area and the available systems limited the flight to approaches in visual conditions.
The aircraft was instead radar vectored to Melbourne, Victoria and the flight completed in visual conditions.
The ATSB said “it found that when setting up the aircraft’s flight management and guidance system, the captain inadvertently entered the wrong longitudinal position of the aircraft. This adversely affected the on-board navigation systems however, despite a number of opportunities to identify and correct the error, it was not noticed until after the aircraft became airborne and started tracking in the wrong direction.”
The ATSB also found that the aircraft was not fitted with an upgraded flight management system that would have prevented the data entry error via either automated initialisation or automatic correction of manual errors.
The ATSB noted that in response to this incident AirAsia X undertook safety action, including: the development of a training bulletin and package for its flight crews that emphasised the correct operation and alignment of the air data and inertial reference system.
Kuala Lumpur is more than 6,000kms from Melbourne. Picture: Cruise1st
In a statement AirAsia X said all its aircraft had been equipped with upgraded flight management systems since the incident and staff had been given extra training.
“AirAsia X would like to stress that we have in place robust management systems to monitor and prevent similar incidents from reoccurring,” the statement said.
“The safety of all guests and crew are our utmost priority at all times.”
The serious incident is the third involving the AirAsia group in the last 18 months in Australian airspace.
On July 21 this year an AirAsia X A330 came within 152m of a Jetstar flight on the Gold Coast and on February 19 an Indonesia Air Asia A320 flew 300m too low on approach to Perth Airport at night.
In the Gold Coast incident it is alleged by industry sources the crew of the AirAsia X flight, which had just taken off, did not follow air traffic control instructions, bringing their A330 too close to a Jetstar flight coming into land.
The report on the Perth incident, where the A320 was flying just above its stalling speed, is due this year.