Jetstar acts on incident report

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 normally.

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 said.

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 said.

''Jetstar takes anything that happens in its cockpits very seriously.

''The aircraft continued to fly a safe approach and land in clear conditions on the day of this event.''