Pilots have been reminded of the dangers in being distracted
in the cockpit after a flight into Queenstown was left on
auto-pilot and passed below minimum low flying safety levels.
The stark warning was made in the conclusions of an air
safety investigation into an Australian-registered Jetstar
Airbus A320 flight on July 16, 2012.
At about 8.30am, it began its approach to the runway at
But, an investigation by the Australian Transport Safety
Bureau (ATSB) found that the crew "continued descent with the
auto-flight system in open descent mode, which did not
provide protection against infringing the instrument approach
procedure's segment minimum safe altitudes".
The plane descended below two segment minimum safe altitudes,
the ATSB said in a new report published today (Tues.).
When the crew recognised the error, they corrected their
approach to land.
The ATSB also found that the crew were not strictly adhering
to the operator's flight deck procedures, which "probably
allowed the crew to become distracted".
The incident has prompted the ATSB to remind operators and
flight crew of the importance of "continuous attention to
active and armed auto-flight system modes".
"For flight crew, this occurrence illustrates once again the
fallibility of prospective memory and the potentially serious
effects of pilot distraction,' the report says.
- by Kurt Bayer