Airline tightens landing procedures after mobile phone distracts pilot
Jetstar has pledged to learn from errors on a flight in 2010 when flying crew forgot to lower the landing gear because the captain was distracted by incoming SMSs.
The flight, JQ57 from Darwin in Australia to Singapore in May 2010, aborted its landing at just 150 metres above the ground at Changi Airport after a series of errors in the cockpit triggered by the captain’s mobile phone beeping as the device started picking up new messages.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau says the the Airbus 321-231 was not in the “correct landing configuration” by 500 feet, with the crew at a point where their “situational awareness” had been lost and “decision making was affected and inter-crew communication degraded”.
Due to a number of procedures in final approach not being implemented (ie. landing gear not down and locked at the correct time) the landing was aborted.
The investigation by the ATSB says somewhere between 2,500 and 2,000 feet the crew heard beeps on the captain’s mobile phone.
A number of things then went wrong, including communication between the captain and first officer being impaired as the former attempted to turn off his phone and, more importantly, the landing gear still being in the up position and the aircraft’s flaps not set correctly.
The aircraft eventually aborted the landing and made a subsequent safe approach and touchdown shortly after.
Jetstar’s chief pilot Mark Rindfleish says in response to the report:
“Human factors, like distraction, are why airlines have so many procedural safeguards built into how they fly. The combination of factors on JQ57 has provided new learnings and the opportunity to add to these safeguards, which we take very seriously.”
The airline has tightened its take-off procedures to ensure pilots have turned off their mobile phones and has also increased the mandatory distance for landing check-list from 500 feet above the ground to 1,000 feet.
Kevin May is editor and a co-founder of Tnooz. He was previously editor of UK-based magazine Travolution for nearly four years and web editor of Media Week UK from 2003 to 2005.
He has also worked in regional newspapers (Essex Enquirer) and started his career in journalism at the Police Gazette at New Scotland Yard in London. He has a degree in criminology and a postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism.