The ATSB has launched an inquiry into two very dangerous incidents at the Gold Coast Airport last week, on May 3 and May 4, when an AirAsiaX A330-300 dropped below the safe radar minimum altitude while apparently looking for the runway in bad visibility.

The announcement of the inquiry says little. But the words mean a lot. Dropping below radar minimums has caused thousands of deaths in airline operations. It involves either incompetence by an airline or indifference to safety requirements. There is no wriggle room in screw ups like this, and two in two days, from the same airline, suggests that the ATSB is onto something of considerable importance to the Australian travelling public. The Polish president and everyone else aboard his flight recently died in a crash that was approaching a Russian runway in poor visibility below the safe minimum height for the approach,  and contrary to the advice at terminal control, which had urged the crew to divert.

This item in Plane Talking may provide some relevant reading.

AirAsiaX may have a good story to tell. But you can’t even find AirAsiaX in Australia. It needs to explain, how close to the ground did its flights come while over the hilly terrain and high rises that impinge on the approach paths to the Gold Coast Airport?

What was said between the pilots and ATC and terminal control on each occasion? Why did AirAsiaX’s operational standards permit this to happen? Which part of ‘safe minimum radar altitude’ doesn’t it understand?

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