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Analysis

Summary

It is probable that the crew's efforts to regain time during the flight became their primary focus. Thus, when the fuel transfer problem arose they concentrated on that item to ensure that the flight could continue to make up time. That action caused them to be distracted from managing the flight in accordance with air traffic control instructions.

As the controller acted to ascertain the actual level of the B747, it appears that the crew became aware that they had not descended in accordance with their clearance. As they descended the B747 they may have became focused on that task to the detriment of monitoring the VHF radio. While it was probably appropriate to give priority to managing the aircraft's descent, a short transmission advising their intended action would have assisted the controller to appreciate the possible effect on the airways system.

The use of ambiguous annotations by the flight crew to note the descent requirement, probably did not assist them in monitoring their flight progress.

 
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