Aviation safety investigations & reports

Ground handling event - VH-­VQL, Sydney aerodrome, NSW, 1 June 2010

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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On 1 June 2010, an Airbus A320-232 aircraft, registered VH-VQL, was being operated on a scheduled passenger service from the Gold Coast, Queensland (Qld) to Sydney, New South Wales (NSW). On arrival at Sydney the passengers commenced disembarking through the aircraft's forward and rear doors. During this time, a ground handler drove a cargo loader towards the rear cargo door of the aircraft in preparation for unloading baggage and cargo.

When the loader was about 3 m away from the aircraft, the ground handler stopped the loader, completed the relevant safety checks and then commenced moving towards the aircraft. After moving forward about 0.3 m the loader unexpectedly accelerated towards the aircraft. The ground handler reported he was unable to stop the loader or turn it away from the aircraft prior to it impacting the aircraft just forward of the rear cargo door. The aircraft, cargo loader and rear passenger stairs sustained serious damage. No one was injured in the incident.

A subsequent inspection by the operator identified that when the throttle pedal was depressed to the full open position, the pedal would intermittently become caught on the throttle stop due to a missing striker plate on the back of the pedal assembly.

As a result of this incident, the operator inspected all their cargo loaders of the same model to ensure they were not missing the striker plate. One loader was found to be missing a striker plate and this has since been repaired.

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 2.47MB]
General details
Date: 01 June 2010   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 0750 EST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Sydney aerodrome    
State: New South Wales   Occurrence type: Ground handling  
Release date: 14 October 2010   Occurrence category: Serious Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Airbus Industrie  
Aircraft model A320  
Aircraft registration VH-VQL  
Serial number 2642  
Type of operation Air Transport High Capacity  
Damage to aircraft Serious  
Departure point Gold Coast, Qld  
Destination Sydney, NSW  
Last update 14 November 2018