Qantas Pilot Sick Tired When His Plane Was Flying too Low

8th Jul 2015

A Qantas Airways pilot was not at hundred percent on the day his plane flew under 1800 feet on approach to the Melbourne Airport on 8th March, the Australian Safety Authority investigators have found out.

According to the investigators, the pilot was feeling sick, tired and barely ate anything on that day, which significantly reduced his performance and reactions.

1st Officer to Captain: "You are too Low".

At one point during the approach to the airport, the co-pilot checked the flight display and saw the Qantas Airbus A300 flying below 1800. This prompted him to tell the captain that he is too low.

The pilot reduced the jet's rate of descent, but the warning system already went off.

When the ground alarms resounded the aircraft was 600 feet above the ground. The lower limit of the control area is 100 feet below that. To make matters worse, it was still some 17 kilometers too far from touching the ground.

The crew received "pull up" warning just moments after.

Insufficient Monitoring of the Plane's Glide Path

According to ATSA investigators, a combination of several factors, including the captain's condition, choosing an ineffectual elevation target and insufficient monitoring of the jet's glide path ultimately lead to its significant deviation.

The ATSB report said:

"The captain assessed the aircraft's flight path using glide slope indications that were not valid. That resulted in an incorrect assessment that the aircraft was above the nominal descent profile."

The investigation further revealed that the Australian carrier has provided only "limited guidance" when it comes to visual approaches necessary for pilots to have a "shared understanding" of the intended approach.

Head of flying operations at Qantas Mike Galvin said the incident prompted the carrier to review its training procedures:

"While backup systems worked as they should have, including the intervention by the first officer and the automated warning system from the on board computer, we certainly don't take this incident lightly."

The plane landed safely and without problem.