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The B747 was being radar vectored to a long left base to runway 34. The controller became anxious during the aircraft's approach as it was well above a normal descent profile. Despite prompting from the controller, the crew indicated that the descent profile was satisfactory. As the aircraft entered a long final approach, the captain asked for a left orbit to lose altitude as they were too high and not yet in the landing configuration. The B200C was also tracking in from the south-west for left base to runway 34, and about 10 NM behind the B747. Because of this potential confliction, the controller refused the captain's request and directed the B747 onto a heading of 090 degrees and restricted its descent to 2,000 ft. The B747 crew did not hear or understand the heading restriction, did not read back the radar heading and continued in a right orbit. The controller ordered a reversal of the turn, with which the B747 crew complied. In the mean time the lateral and vertical separation standards of 3 NM and/or 1,000 ft were compromised between the B200C and the B747. Both crews were given traffic information on the other aircraft and visual separation was maintained until the radar separation standards were once again established. During the telephone interview, the B747 captain said that the first officer was flying and a little slow in configuring the aircraft. He (the captain) was handling the radio and until entering final approach was still convinced that an approach could be made with track lengthening. He asked for an orbit to the left being unaware of the position of the following aircraft. He said that they did not hear the heading restriction and assumed that a right orbit was acceptable. The controller made an error of omission in not obtaining a readback of the heading. The controllers work load was light at the time of the incident. FACTORS 1. The B747 crew of Air France 144 misjudged their descent profile and entered the final approach too high to complete a normal landing. 2. The B747 crew did not follow the instructions issued by ATC. 3. The controller did not obtain a readback of the heading information.
General details
Date: 30 November 1993 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 5:15 ESuT  
 Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
 Occurrence type: Loss of separation 
Release date: 25 March 1994 Occurrence class: Airspace 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Incident 
Aircraft 1 details
Aircraft manufacturer: Beech Aircraft Corp 
Aircraft model: B200C 
Aircraft registration: VH-AMR 
Sector: Turboprop 
Damage to aircraft: Nil 
Departure point:Wagga Wagga NSW
Destination:Sydney NSW
Aircraft 2 details
Aircraft manufacturer: The Boeing Company 
Aircraft model: 747-400 
Aircraft registration: F-GEXA 
Sector: Jet 
Damage to aircraft: Nil 
Departure point:Singapore
Destination:Sydney NSW
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Last update 24 July 2015