AirAsia X Diversion Caused By Data Entry Error

September 7, 2016

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An AirAsia X flight from Sydney to Kuala Lumpur last year had to divert to Melbourne after the captain entered inaccurate information into the flight management computer, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau said in a report into the incident.

Prior to the flight in March 2015, the captain entered the wrong longitudinal position of the aircraft into the aircraft’s flight management and guidance system, the ATSB said in the report.

The error adversely affected the onboard navigation systems, a situation that was not noticed until after the aircraft became airborne and started tracking in the wrong direction.

Air traffic control observed the aircraft turning into the flight path of a parallel runway and informed the pilots who identified a problem with the onboard navigation systems.

“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 ATSB said.

The crew decided to return to Sydney but because of bad weather and the degraded systems, the aircraft was instead diverted to Melbourne, where it landed safely.

The ATSB concluded that “This occurrence highlights that even experienced flight crew are not immune from data entry errors. However, carrying out procedures and incorporating equipment upgrades recommended by aircraft manufacturers will assist in preventing or detecting such errors.

“Additionally, the airborne management of this occurrence illustrates the importance of effective communication when dealing with an abnormal situation under high workload conditions. This is especially the case when there is limited guidance available to resolve the issue.”

AirAsia X made a number of changes as a result of the incident, including a new training bulletin for its flight crews.

The low cost carrier also shared the lessons learned from its internal investigation with all pilots, and reviewed recovery procedures.