Aviation

ATSB investigates trainee air traffic controller after Qantas planes’ near miss

Christian Fleetwood

Christian Fleetwood

Australia’s transport safety authority is investigating whether a trainee air traffic controller is to blame for a near miss between two Qantas planes.

According to a preliminary report from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), an aircraft’s last-resort emergency collision systems triggered when two Qantas planes came within 200 metres of one another near Sydney Airport.

The incident, categorised as “serious” by the ATSB, occurred in August, last year, on the watch of a supervised trainee air traffic controller, when a Boeing 737 was on its final approach to Sydney, as an Airbus A330 readied for departure at the same time.

After a previous landing aircraft had cleared the runway, the air traffic controller cleared the Airbus A330 for immediate take-off. Shortly after, the flight crew of the Boeing 737 were issued a late instruction to go around as the “runway separation standard” of 1,000 feet vertically could not be assured.

The Airbus travelled just 152 metres below the Boeing aircraft, in an anxious few seconds described as “very close” by the A330 aircraft’s captain, who radioed the control tower.

Google earth overlaid with Qantas Airways flight data. Annotated by ATSB (ATSB)

The controller, who was training to take up a position at Sydney Airport at the time, had instructed the flight crew of the 737 to turn on to an easterly heading and climb to provide separation with the A330 as that aircraft became airborne.

However, the instruction to turn provided to the flight crew of the 737 conflicted with the departure track of the A330. This saw both aircraft come within 152 metres vertically and 796 metres laterally of one another – well below the runway separation standard.

The flight crew of the A330 subsequently received a traffic collision avoidance system alert – a last-resort safety mechanism – with the captain sending a radio transmission saying, “that was very close”, the preliminary report noted.

The A330 then climbed to 5,000 feet and continued to Melbourne without further incident. The 737 climbed to 3,000 feet and was issued radar vectors for a second approach to the runway, landing without further incident a short time later.

According to the report, the trainee air traffic controller was working supervised in the tower at Sydney Airport, where he or she was training to take up a position, and had prior experience working at other airports.

In a statement, Qantas said that even if both aircraft stayed on the same flight paths, “they were not in danger of colliding”.

“We’re continuing to work with the ATSB on their ongoing investigation.”

A final report will be released at the conclusion of the investigation, following the current evidence collection phase, which will include interviewing the air traffic controllers and flight crew, and reviewing recorded surveillance and flight data.

Featured image: Qantas aeroplanes at Sydney Airport (iStock.com/oversnap)

SEE WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

Leave a Reply

Wholesalers

Helloworld to purchase Excite Holidays’ booking platform, as former staff resurface

by Huntley Mitchell

Look! It’s not one, but two important updates regarding failed wholesaler Excite Holidays, accentuated by a generic iStock image.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

Agent Wrap: AFTA announces roadshow, Silversea’s massive incentive, Visit USA kicks off expos + MORE!

by Mekal Mishra

Incentives and expos and famils, oh my! Get the latest update on all the fab perks your agent mates have enjoyed this week, and get in on a few of them yourself, with this week’s Agent Wrap.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

The mysterious case of Bill Gates and the $747 million hydrogen-powered superyacht

by Christian Fleetwood

It’s a case that seemingly fooled the press, but did the world’s second-richest man really buy ‘Aqua’? Travel Weekly investigates this not so major mystery.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Boeing fires mid-level exec following “totally appalling” emails

by Christian Fleetwood

Adding to a grim January for the manufacturer comes the news that Boeing booked no new orders for the month for the first time in nearly 60 years.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Jetstar warns of flight cancellations ahead of strikes next week

by Ali Coulton

Meanwhile, Travel Weekly staff are going on strike to protest a significant drop in the number of Tim Tams on offer in the office kitchen.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

Flavour of the Week: Ryanair marketing boss quits, GM revealed for new Melbourne hotel + MORE!

This edition of Flavour of the Week is a bit like an airport, in that there are both arrivals and departures (and thankfully no cases of coronavirus).

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

China travel ban extended amid coronavirus spike as quarantined cruise offered free porn

by Ali Coulton

Passengers on board Diamond Princess are getting crafty in their exile, while an adult entertainment company is offering the less imaginative an alternative.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

Industry celebrates Valentine’s Day: Sky-high proposals, a dating app for endangered birds and the chance to win $1,600

The industry has once again been struck by Cupid’s bow, with these companies indulging in some romantic festivities. However, that’s not to say they’ve joined the mile-high club.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

Trailblazing women inspire Lonely Planet’s new travel guide

by Mekal Mishra

Some of the women featured in the new guide include Michelle Obama, Nancy Bird Walton, Cathy Freeman, and Greta Thunberg.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Aloha Friday Wrap: HTO’s new guide, Hawaiian Airlines gets romantic, #islandsofaloha comp + MORE!

Keen to become an expert on all things Hawaii but don’t have the time nor money to get over there? Let this handy wrap be your saviour.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Hawaiian Airlines spreads the love this Valentine’s Day

To share the love this Valentine’s Day, Hawaiian Airlines has announced a ‘Romance Sale’ with fares on sale until 18 February.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Hawai‘i Tourism launches #islandsofaloha photo comp for Aussies

Hawai‘i Tourism is giving away a luxury trip to the Hawaiian Islands as part of a  newly launched photo competition.

Share

CommentComments