Published On: Thu, Sep 8th, 2016

AirAsia flight bound for Malaysia landed in Melbourne after pilot error

The AirAsia crew didn't notice the error until after the plane became airborne, an Australian report says.


A flight to Malaysia from Sydney was diverted to Melbourne after its pilot entered incorrect coordinates of the plane’s starting position, an Australian aviation investigation report has found.

Carrying 212 passengers and 10 crew, the AirAsia flight bound for Kuala Lumpur on March 10, 2015, was flying in the wrong direction after takeoff from Sydney, because the pilot had manually entered the wrong coordinates of the plane’s position into the flight’s onboard navigation systems.

That mistake led to the Airbus, turning left after takeoff from Sydney instead of right. As a result, the aircraft, carrying 212 passengers crossed the departure flightpath of the adjacent parallel Runway.

“It is likely that data integrity checks detailed in the pre-flight and taxi checklists were either omitted or conducted with the navigation display selected to an inappropriate mode and/or range that concealed the aircraft’s positional error, ” the ATSB report said.

“The instrument panels cockpit check was not carried out in accordance with the flightcrew operations manual and resulted in the crew not detecting the offset error in the displayed heading.”

The ATSB also found that the flight crew attempted to troubleshoot and rectify the situation while under heavy workload. Combined with limited guidance from the available checklists, this resulted in further errors by the flight crew in the diagnosis and actioning of flight deck switches.

After considering their degraded flight systems, the flightcrew requested a return to Sydney with a visual approach. However, bad weather meant that was not possible. Instead, the aircraft diverted to Melbourne Tullamarine with the flightcrew receiving “continuous radar vectors from the aircraft’s current position to touchdown in Melbourne”.


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