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On 6 April 2012 a Boeing Company 737-838 aircraft (B737), registered VH-VXI, on a scheduled passenger flight from Sydney, New South Wales to Darwin, Northern Territory was involved in a breakdown of separation with an Airbus Industries A330-243 aircraft (A330), registered B-6073, on a scheduled passenger flight from Melbourne, Victoria to Shanghai, China.

Both aircraft were operating under Instrument Flight Rules and were in airspace controlled by Brisbane Centre utilising radar.

The B737 and A330 were on converging tracks at Flight Level (FL) 360. As the aircraft approached Tindal, Northern Territory at 1342 Central Standard Time, a breakdown of separation occurred when the distance between them reduced to about 3.5 NM, before vertical separation was established. The incident occurred about 16 minutes after a handover between two Air Traffic Controllers.

As a result of a number of incidents involving handovers, Airservices Australia advised the ATSB that they had amended the handover procedure to require supervision and for the relinquishing controller to remain at the console to provide assistance until the accepting controller indicated that assistance was not required.

The incident highlighted the importance of separation assurance and thorough handovers.

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General details
Date: 06 April 2012 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 1342 CST  
Location   (show map):near Tindal Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Northern Territory Occurrence type: Loss of separation 
Release date: 03 August 2012 Occurrence class: Airspace 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Serious Incident 
 Highest injury level: None 
Aircraft 1 details
Aircraft manufacturer: The Boeing Company 
Aircraft model: 737 
Aircraft registration: VH-VXI 
Serial number: 33479 
Operator: Qantas Airways Limited 
Type of operation: Air Transport High Capacity 
Damage to aircraft: Nil 
Departure point:Sydney, NSW
Destination:Darwin, NT
Aircraft 2 details
Aircraft manufacturer: Airbus Industrie 
Aircraft model: A330 
Aircraft registration: B-6073 
Serial number: 780 
Operator: Air China 
Type of operation: Air Transport High Capacity 
Damage to aircraft: Nil 
Departure point:Melbourne, VIC
Destination:Shanghai China
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Last update 18 April 2018