Jetstar says it will stress to its pilots the need to factor
in the alpine terrain around Queenstown Airport after one of
its 180-seat passenger airliners was ''going too fast'' as it
approached the airport.
An aviation occurrence investigation by the Australian
Transport Safety Bureau reported that when an Airbus A320
operated by Jetstar was conducting an area navigation (a
required navigational mode) approach to Queenstown Airport on
July 16, 2012, it infringed the 2438m safe altitude minimum
between two waypoints just before 8.30am, and continued its
descent beneath the 2225m segment minimum safe altitude to
the next waypoint.
The first officer was alerted by a sensation described as
''going too fast'', at a rate of descent of 640m a minute, at
1920m above sea level, at 8.31am, the report said.
The captain then checked the altimeter, realised the problem
and commenced a climb using the auto-flight vertical speed
mode. The aircraft climbed to a correct altitude of 2225m
above sea level.
The auto-flight system momentarily reached 2225m before the
final approach mode engaged and the approach continued
The bureau found that, contrary to their intentions, the crew
continued the 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 investigation also found the crew did not strictly adhere
to the operator's sterile flight deck procedures, ''which
probably allowed the crew to become distracted'', the report
A Jetstar spokesman said that, as part of its own review, the
airline had included additional material in flight crew
manuals further emphasising the importance of situational
awareness for pilots.
''Flying charts for Queenstown and the surrounding region
have been amended to further emphasise the necessary
requirements for approaches into the airport,'' the spokesman
''Jetstar takes anything that happens in its cockpits very
''The aircraft continued to fly a safe approach and land in
clear conditions on the day of this event.''