Jetstar A320: supplied PR image

Keep on eye on the ATSB’s latest Jetstar inquiry involving  an incorrect air pressure value being entered into a flight computer on approach to the Gold Coast airport.

It could get tabloid headlines in the media, or it could get totally ignored.

Neither response would be appropriate. What is appropriate is the ATSB’s vigilance on this occasion in hauling up a major Australian carrier and saying, to be blunt, “What the hell were you thinking?” or alternatively, “Tell us more about your investment in safety of flight standards in your pilots?”

We all know that low cost carriers seek to cut legacy frills and indulgent, wasteful and unproductive practices.

But the seldom asked question is whether a low cost carrier is also low cost in its maintenance of flight standards, recurrent training, and reporting of incidents from which the entire industry can learn.

From personal acquaintance, Jetstar has some outstandingly good and professional pilots and the company has some very good people dedicated to be being a safe and reliable carrier.

Which makes this incident noteworthy, as have other Jetstar incidents where first officers couldn’t actually select the right flap setting under pressure, and a captain was so absorbed with his mobile phone picking up ground messages on approach to Singapore that he nearly let the jet meet the ground incorrectly configured for landing and had to be saved in a manner of speaking by his first officer ignoring his instructions to ‘just land the plane’ and flying it away from the airport  for a professionally conducted landing on the second attempt.

All carriers need to be hauled up when incidents like this occur. The airlines are supposed to learn from such inquiries, and the public interest has to be protected.

Let’s see where this inquiry leads, and in the post Pel-Air world of ATSB fumbling and bumbling, cut through to what it means, for better or for worse, and keep an open mind.

The inquiry is not being held for fun. There is a reason for it being launched.

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