Aviation safety investigations & reports

Breakdown of separation - Boeing 767-338, VH-OGG and Airbus A320-232, VH-VNC, 74 km NW of Tamworth Airport NSW, 1 July 2010

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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On 1 July 2010, at 1003 Eastern Standard Time, a breakdown of separation occurred between an Airbus Industrie A320-232 aircraft and Boeing Company 767-338 aircraft, about 40 NM (74 km) to the north-west of Tamworth, New South Wales. The aircraft were operating on crossing tracks, with an angular displacement between the tracks of about 50°. Both aircraft were operating at standard cruising levels. The enroute air traffic controller first identified the confliction about 2 minutes before the separation breakdown occurred, when both aircraft were maintaining FL360 and there was 26.2 NM (48.5 km) between their lateral positions. An instruction to climb to FL370 was issued to the flight crew of the 767. When there was 14.6 NM (27.04 km) between the aircraft, the controller subsequently instructed the flight crew of the 767 to expedite their aircraft's climb. Shortly before a 1,000 ft separation standard between the 767 and A320 was established, the radar data indicated that longitudinal separation had reduced, below the required standard of 5NM (9.26 km), to 3.8 (7.04 km) NM.

This incident highlighted the importance of, the provision of timely and appropriate traffic information to flight crew by air traffic control, in that it can significantly enhance pilots' situational awareness.  It also supported the opportunity for flight crew to enhance the situational awareness of air traffic control, such as in providing direct information regarding individual aircraft performance.

Airservices Australia (Airservices) has advised that they are conducting a systemic review into the number of breakdown of separation occurrences. Outcomes from that review will be considered in terms of further safety improvement. In addition, Airservices has implemented a Compromised Separation Recovery training module for enroute air traffic control groups.

Download Final report
[Download  PDF: 4.28MB]
General details
Date: 01 July 2010   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1003 EST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): 74 km NW of Tamworth Airport    
State: New South Wales   Occurrence type: Loss of separation  
Release date: 12 September 2011   Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft 1 details

Aircraft 1 details
Aircraft manufacturer The Boeing Company  
Aircraft model 767  
Aircraft registration VH-OGG  
Serial number 24929  
Type of operation Air Transport High Capacity  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Sydney, NSW  
Destination Cairns, Qld  

Aircraft 2 details

Aircraft 2 details
Aircraft manufacturer Airbus Industrie  
Aircraft model A320  
Aircraft registration VH-VNC  
Serial number 3275  
Type of operation Air Transport High Capacity  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Brisbane, Qld  
Destination Melbourne, Vic.  
Last update 14 November 2018