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air safety

Jan 17, 2014

Air-India 787 warned off wrong Melbourne airport landing

An Air-India Dreamliner 787 was at low altitude  on Tuesday morning and about to touchdown at the wrong Melbourne Airport, Essendon rather than nearby Melbourne International, when

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Air-India 787-8 successfully on the ground on correct runway at SYD: Photo James Morgan

An Air-India Dreamliner 787 was at low altitude  on Tuesday morning and about to touchdown at the wrong Melbourne Airport, Essendon rather than nearby Melbourne International, when it was warned off by AirServices Australia.

A full and well illustrated account of the sub-standard flight safety standards displayed by the Air-India crew has been published here on the Carry On site.

It nearly made Melbourne the setting for a fourth high profile wrong airport landing in recent times, as outlined on Carry On.

Or even a fifh if the Ethiopian landing of a 767 at the wrong airport near Mt Kilimanjaro in December is included in what looks like an epidemic of in-flight clumsiness to the general media,  yet is statistically insignificant given the overall volume of safe world wide air traffic movements.

The ATSB has confirmed that it has been notified of the Air-India incident but has decided that it will not launch on inquiry.

Based on the further information we received from the operator, air traffic control and from the crew we decided that there was nothing systemic that warranted an investigation. Basically, the system operated as it was designed to do.

Two pilots ask to evaluate the known details of the incident were divided over the ATSB’s decision. The pilot who supported the decision said that inter alia there was no probability that anything the ATSB might say or do would have the slightest effect on Air-India, and that it would amount to a costly and pointless exercise in hand holding.

The other pilot saw merit in an inquiry because he believed there was too high an incidence of flight path deviation incidents near Melbourne’s main airport, in part the result of ‘sub-optimally designed’ approach paths and that the Air-India incident was an opportunity to examine a bigger picture.

Both pilots believed that the Air-India 787 could have been pulled up with ease on the Essendon runway, which before Melbourne’s nearby International airport was built was used by jets as large as Boeing 727-200s in regular domestic service.  They were also aware of anecdotal accounts of a DC-10 lining up to land on the Essendon runway sometime in the 70s, and being warned off at the last minute.

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