Qantas Airways has implemented flight manual and software updates that govern standard operational procedures on its real-time cockpit environment, which the national carrier said were moves meant to eliminate "process errors."
Qantas said the changes are exclusive, for now, to its fleet of Airbus A380s and flight crews that would handle route assignments using the Airbus aircraft.
A report released on Wednesday by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has indicated that the new adjustments from Qantas were prompted by an incident in late 2011 involving a Qantas flight from Los Angeles that used an A380.
According to The Herald Sun, the captain in charge of the October 8 flight, which was bound for Melbourne, committed a minor oversight that for brief moments rendered the plane's flight crew 'guessing' on their actual speed during take-off.
The mistake, the ATSB report said, was traced to the main pilot's failure to feed into the plane's navigational plan the flight's progressive take-off speed, which at that time confused the computer system on the real pace of the aircraft while it was lifting off the runway.
It was also understood that the flight's critical speed indicators momentarily flashed unreliable numbers that the crew had only realised when the plane they were piloting kicked up to 100 kilometres per hour.
It was at that point, the ATSB report said, that plane flight crews could decide to continue with the take-off should they deem that no threats were present at all or abort the whole procedure if faced with unsure signals.
Qantas said the LA-Melbourne flight pulled away from the runway since the cockpit instruments showed no imminent danger as the plane packed more speed and ascended.
The company lauded its crew for quickly correcting the anomaly by reverting on the manual calculations, which were written on a piece of paper, that were earlier made.
Ensuing investigation showed that the pilot had admitted he was distracted by issues inside the cockpit which led to the 'omission' of the important take-off procedure.
The captain also told ATSB investigators that he had wrongly assumed that every process has been covered prior to actual take-off as his information matched with that of his crewmates following crosschecks and the first officer already cleared the 'check take-off data' signal.
With the glitch almost immediately dealt with, Qantas said in a statement that the "aircraft took off normally and safely," with the incident not inciting panic on passengers, who did not notice the slight problem.
Further, Qantas labelled the episode, which the ATSB report noted had transpired under the watch of a captain with 21,000 hours of flight experience, as "a process error with no operational safety risk."
"Both Airbus and Qantas have made changes to ensure that the process error cannot occur again," News Ltd quoted the company as saying in a statement.
Qantas has advised the ATSB that with the changes it implemented, flight crews will be duly guided to double-check that all processes that ensure safety and integrity the whole duration of a flight are covered to the fullest.
Likewise, an upgrade on A380s' computer safety system would sound off additional warning on take-off speeds, which should eliminate the recurrence of the incident, the national carrier said.
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