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.