Aviation safety investigations & reports

Boeing 737-86N, VH-VOG, Melbourne, Airport, Vic, 4 March 2005

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


Factual Information

On 4 March 2005, at 1405 Eastern Daylight-saving Time, a Boeing Company 737-86N aircraft, registered VH-VOG, was being operated on a scheduled passenger service from Melbourne to Brisbane. The pilot in command (PIC) reported that during the take-off roll, the aircraft unexpectedly deviated to the right of the runway 27 centreline and the nosewheel felt as though it ‘had been caught in a groove’. The PIC applied left rudder to regain directional control and continued the takeoff and flight to Brisbane. The circumstances of this incident were similar to those identified in a previous Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) investigation, (see investigation report 199703237).

Factaul Information

An inspection of the aircraft by maintenance engineers on arrival in Brisbane did not find any fault with the main or standby rudder power control unit (PCU). The B737 PCU is a hydraulic mechanism that moves the rudder in response to inputs from either the pilot or the yaw damper. The aircraft operator has not reported any further rudder occurrences with the aircraft.

The aerodrome terminal information service that was valid at the time of the takeoff indicated that the surface wind was 190 degrees magnetic at 12 to 15 kts. Wind data that was recorded at the airport at the approximate time of the event indicated a varying, but generally south-south-easterly wind at a speed of 4 to 10 kts. The crew reported that another passenger aircraft had landed on the crossing runway prior to their departure.

The airport operator's inspection report included morning and midday inspections of the airport runway surfaces. The morning inspection was at 0727 and the midday inspection was carried out at 1450. Neither inspection identified any problems with the runway 27 surface.

The Flight Data Recorder (FDR) information was recovered for examination by the ATSB. The examination revealed that a right lateral acceleration, with a peak of approximately 0.17g had occurred at 125 kts, (refer Figure 1).

Chart showing the increase in computed air speed and right lateral acceleration

The ATSB referred the FDR information to the aircraft manufacturer for review.

The manufacturer reported that the recorded rudder and yaw damper inputs were in response to the acceleration, and did not initiate it. The recorded rudder data indicated that all rudder movements were commanded by the crew and/or the yaw damper. The PIC reported that he felt the rudder pedal move under his feet. The FDR recorded a 5 kt headwind increase during the take-off roll that may have been the result of an increasing crosswind.

The manufacturer conducted additional analysis with a flight simulator, to better understand the rudder pedal movements, lateral acceleration and heading data recorded during the occurrence. The simulation results indicated that a 7 kt right quartering headwind gust, followed by a 13 kt left quartering gust, would be needed to match the FDR lateral acceleration data.


The ATSB investigation determined that the increase in computed airspeed recorded at the time of the lateral acceleration was likely due to an atmospheric disturbance, which resulted in the aircraft veering unexpectedly. The ambient wind recorded at the time of the occurrence did not indicate if the crosswind increased, or decreased, during the event. Wake turbulence was considered unlikely, as the reported landing of the other passenger aircraft was downwind of the departure runway.

General details
Date: 04 March 2005   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1405 ESuT    
Location   (show map): Melbourne, Airport    
State: Victoria   Occurrence type: Control issues  
Release date: 04 November 2005   Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer The Boeing Company  
Aircraft model 737  
Aircraft registration VH-VOG  
Serial number 28644  
Type of operation Air Transport High Capacity  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Melbourne, Vic  
Departure time 1406 EsuT  
Destination Brisbane, Qld  
Crew details
Role Class of licence Hours on type Hours total
Last update 16 February 2016