Aviation safety investigations & reports

Breakdown of separation - Boeing 737-838,VH-VXI and an Airbus A330-243, B-6073, near Tindal, NT, 6 April 2012

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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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.

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 3.57MB]
General details
Date: 06 April 2012   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1342 CST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): near Tindal    
State: Northern Territory   Occurrence type: Loss of separation  
Release date: 03 August 2012   Occurrence category: Serious Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft 1 details

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 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  
Last update 14 November 2018