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In the early hours of 22 June 2009, an Airbus Industrie A330 (A330), registered VH-QPI (QPI), encountered an area of severe turbulence associated with convective activity while en route from Hong Kong to Perth, Western Australia. As a result of the incident, a combined total of seven passengers and crew members received minor injuries. After consultation with medical and operational personnel, the pilot in command continued the flight to Perth. The aircraft suffered minor internal damage and, after a maintenance check, was returned to service.

The cloud associated with the convective activity consisted of ice crystals; a form of water that has minimal detectability by aircraft weather radar. Consequently, the convective activity itself was not detectable by QPI's radar. As the event occurred at night with no moon, there was little opportunity for the crew to see the weather.

The operator intends to upgrade the weather radar fitted to its A330 fleet, which will increase the fleet's capability to detect convective turbulence. Two other minor safety issues were identified during the investigation relating to the risks associated with the use of the pilot flight library when turbulent conditions are encountered, and the engagement of the manual latch to the cockpit door preventing timely access to the flight deck by other operational staff. The operator has taken, or is proposing, relevant safety action to address those issues.

Download Final Report
[ Download PDF: 325KB]
General details
Date: 21 June 2009 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 1830 UTC  
Location   (show map):58km N of Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: International Occurrence type: Turbulence/windshear/microburst 
Release date: 30 June 2010 Occurrence class: Environment 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Incident 
 Highest injury level: Minor 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Airbus Industrie 
Aircraft model: A330 
Aircraft registration: VH-QPI 
Serial number: 705 
Type of operation: Air Transport High Capacity 
Damage to aircraft: Minor 
Departure point:Hong Kong, China
Destination:Perth, WA
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Last update 14 November 2018