Aviation

ATSB launches investigation after loss of separation between Virgin and United jets

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) is investigating yet another loss of separation incident.

The loss of separation took place between a Boeing 777 operated by United Airlines and a Virgin Australia ATR-72 in late January near Sydney Airport.

The United jet was departing for San Francisco, while the Virgin jet was on its way to Tamworth, with both taking off from parallel runways at Sydney Airport when the incident occurred, according to the ATSB.

“During initial climb, the Boeing 777 turned right resulting in a loss of separation with the ATR-72 departing from the parallel runway,” it said.

As part of the investigation, the ATSB has contacted Virgin, United and Airservices Australia to obtain relevant incident data.

It is unclear at this stage how close the jets came to one another; however, the incident has been categorised as serious.

The active investigation is expected to yield a short report and analysis in accordance with the auspice of the Transport Safety Investigation Act 2003 (TSI Act).

If a critical safety issue is identified during the investigation, the ATSB advised it will immediately notify relevant stakeholders so “appropriate and timely safety action can be taken”.

The report is expected to be released in the third quarter of 2020.

Trainee air traffic controller under investigation for separate loss of separation incident

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

The news of yet another loss of separation incident at Sydney Airport follows last month’s announcement the ATSB is investigating whether a trainee pilot is to blame for a close call.

According to a preliminary report from the transport safety bureau, an aircraft’s last-resort emergency collision systems triggered when two Qantas planes came within 200 metres of one another.

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.

Featured image: United Airlines Boeing 777 at Chicago O’Hare International Airport (iStock.com/gk-6mt)


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