Impact Publications : Aircargo_242
AirCArgo AsiA-PACifiC • APRIL-MAY 2016 • Page 23 AndReW hudSon Partner, Gadens Melbourne. e: email@example.com Pilots told to check instruments in wake of freighter incident AN INVeSTIgATION re- port on a September 2014 ‘navigation event’ involving a Fairchild SA227AC freighter has been released by the Australian Transport Safe- ty Bureau. As always, the ATSB was more focused on looking at safety aspects – as its official remit demands – than on finding blame. It delivered a clear safety message which the industry is duty bound to take notice of. The aircraft – one of the US-built Metroliner family and usually known as a Metro III – was also involved in a January 2013 weight and balance event on a Melbourne-Launceston flight and a fuel-related event at Brisbane in August that year. In all cases the aircraft landed safely. Registered VH-UUO (a registration with some connotations for Austral- ian aviation historians) it departed Brisbane on a September 2014 flight bound for Bankstown with one pilot on board. Soon after take-off the pilot ad- vised ATC of a “minor problem with heading” following problems with the plane’s horizontal situation indicator (HSI) and attitude indicator (AI), the latter displaying alternatively nose-up and nose-down. ATC directed him out over the coast while he tried to re-orient himself. eventually he got a visual on Brisbane’s runway 19 and landed safely, albeit somewhat over the air- craft’s maximum landing weight. ATSB found that the cockpit was not configured correctly prior to taxi, nor was the incorrect heading reference detected or corrected dur- ing the taxi or line-up. The left gyro slaving switch was selected to ‘free’ instead of ‘slave’ mode, resulting in the captain’s HSI indicating about 50° left of actual heading throughout the flight. The AI probably intermittently mal- functioned after take-off, ATSB sug- gested and the pilot became distract- ed by the two erroneous instrument indications. These, combined with the dark night and flight over water without visual reference contributed to the pilot’s difficulty in maintaining orientation and achieving the planned departure track. Its safety message was brief: “This incident highlights the importance of completing pre-flight checks and ensuring the cockpit is correctly configured prior to taxiing. Particu- larly when operating at night or into instrument meteorological condi- tions, it is imperative to verify all reference instruments are indicating correctly. This incident also highlights the importance of communication, especially as emergencies arise. “If a pilot is having difficulty con- trolling an aircraft and maintaining instrument or visual reference, then alerting air traffic control enables them to provide the necessary and appropriate assistance.” Reports on this and the two 2013 events can be found on www.atsb.gov. au An earlier VH-UUO was a Dragon Rapide which flew initially in NZ and was then entered in the 1934 London to Melbourne Centenary Air Race. It subsequently did not find a buyer in NZ and was sold to WA Airways, then transferred to Adelaide Airways, ANA and eventually guinea Airways in PNg. After war service it flew with Queensland Airlines and Butler Air Transport. It ended its operational career in May 1952 when it crashed in the Warrumbungle Mountains and was written off. Despite the nature of the crash all aboard survived with only minor injuries.