An international A320 captain who has reviewed the preliminary Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) report into the botched Jetstar aborted landing at Melbourne Airport in July, says there is one element in common with the disaster the same month when TAM crashed the same type of jet into a building after failing to stop on the runway at Sao Paulo Airport.

He says the incorrect positioning of the engine throttles is clearly identified in the ATSB report, and strongly indicated in disclosures from the continuing Brazilian investigation:

If you input the wrong throttle setting the jet will not respond as required. This is true of any passenger jet.

What happens immediately afterwards is crucial. If the pilots sit there wondering why it isn’t responding they may run out of time and run into something.

This is essential, basic, piloting. You don’t sit there in disbelief. You check your essentials, such as the position of the throttle levers. You must trust your instruments. If they say DON’T SINK as is indicated in this report you act immediately.

It is an issue of training standards, of operating standards, that the airline and the appropriate authorities have to answer for.

The ATSB says in the preliminary report that it is looking at those areas. But the questions as to how Jetstar could have allowed a bungle like the Melbourne incident to have occurred at all have not been answered.

The TAM crash killed 199 people, including 12 in the building it struck. There were 138 passengers on the Jetstar flight that sank toward the ground while its crew dealt with what they thought was a failure of an automated system on the Airbus but was in fact an error already nailed in the preliminary report.

In a response to the preliminary report Alan Joyce, the chief executive officer of Jetstar says:

Jetstar has undertaken a number of immediate safety actions which have included the clarification of and revision of procedures.

As is standard practice following a pilot incident report Jetstar provided an incident notification to the ATSB in a timely manner.

The airline recognises that its subsequent communication with the ATSB on this matter could have been improved.

Jetstar continues to co-operate fully with the ATSB investigation.

His full statement can be read here.

The preliminary report by the ATSB is here.

Peter Fray

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