It was an error in the GPS system that prompted AirAsia X flight to land in Melbourne when it was en route to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from Sydney.
The incident took place on March 10, 2015 when the captain of the plane took an incorrect longitudinal direction to Malaysia, which led to the inaccuracy of the GPS result. The confusion happened just before the takeoff because of the unidentified error in the GPS system.
When the error was identified, the plane could not return to Sydney because of bad and cloudy weather as it did not allow the pilot to see the runway. Hence, he had to land the flight in Melbourne two hours after taking off. The air traffic controller guided the pilot and the crew manually to the Australian city. They used their radar position to identify the plane’s current location and accordingly gave instructions.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau reported on Wednesday that the crew tried to help fix the issue but couldn’t resolve it. “Attempts to troubleshoot and rectify the problem resulted in further degradation of the navigation system, as well as to the aircraft’s flight guidance and flight control systems,” the ATSB said.
After the investigation, the bureau found that the aircraft lacked an upgraded version of the flight management system that could prevent the incorrect data entry. The regulator asked the airport authorities to upgrade the system and offer required training to crew members. The air transport watchdog said that the event has brought into focus the lack of experience of most of the crew members in handling the “data entry errors”.
“This occurrence highlights that even experienced flight crew is not immune from data entry errors,” News.com.au quoted the ATSB as saying. “However, carrying out procedures and incorporating equipment upgrades recommended by aircraft manufacturers will assist in preventing or detecting such errors.”
In response to the above-mentioned shortcoming identified by the regulator, AirAsia has created a training bulletin and complete package for crew members to go through and get equipped with all skills to handle any error if they occur.