Aviation safety investigations & reports

Operational non-compliance - Boeing 737-81D, VH-YFE, 67 km SSE Mackay Airport, 19 July 2011

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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On 19 July 2011, a Virgin Australia operated Boeing Company 737-81D aircraft, registered VH-YFE, departed Brisbane on a scheduled passenger service to Mackay, Queensland. The First Officer (FO) was designated as the pilot flying for the flight.

While conducting a high speed descent into Mackay, the aircraft became low on profile and descended below the 8,500 ft lower limit of the control area (CTA) step. The aircraft departed Class C and entered Class G airspace for 2.9 NM and 32 seconds, before re-entering Class C. A clearance to depart, or re-enter Class C airspace was not obtained from ATC.

The Captain realised that they were low on profile and advised the FO, who reduced the aircraft's rate of descent. The flight continued without further incident. No other aircraft were affected during the event.

The operator conducted an investigation and determined that the crew's situation awareness of the aircraft's descent profile and proximity to the CTA steps had reduced.

This incident highlights the effect reduced situation awareness can have on aircraft operations and the importance of using all available resources, including instruments and charts, to assist with monitoring the descent profile.

Download Final report
[Download  PDF: 4.43MB]
General details
Date: 19 July 2011   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1000 EST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): 67 km SSE Mackay Airport    
State: Queensland   Occurrence type: Operational non-compliance  
Release date: 14 March 2012   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-YFE  
Serial number 39414  
Operator Virgin Australia  
Type of operation Air Transport High Capacity  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Brisbane, Qld  
Destination Mackay, Qld  
Last update 14 November 2018