The ‘something’ that went bump in the night earlier this month on a Virgin Australia 737 as it neared Denpasar in Bali was the wake turbulence from a giant Airbus A380, and the ATSB wants to find out why.

While the ATSB has said next to nothing on this occasion, the Aviation Herald has identified the A380 as being an Emirates flight from Sydney to Dubai.

That flight was itself, perhaps for meteorological reasons, tracking further north than usual for the Sydney-Dubai service, as it often crosses the lower southern half of the Australian continent.

A spokesperson for Virgin Australia said no information could be released because it was under investigation, but added that “at all times the pilot followed the instructions of air traffic control.”

The incident occurred in Indonesian air space, or so it seems.  There are a lot of ‘seems’ or ‘appears’ arising from the paucity of information available about this event, but the issues of correct separation of airliners, and those of wake turbulence affecting other flights, are important, and whatever the ATSB finds will be of much wider relevance than the airlines and air traffic control procedures that were directly involved.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey