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On 14 December 2012, an Airbus A320 operated on a scheduled passenger flight from Hobart, Tasmania to Melbourne, Victoria, without the runway lights being activated for the taxi and takeoff roll.

Outside tower hours, Hobart Airport operated as a non-towered uncontrolled airport, operating on a common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF). When operating as a CTAF, the runway lighting was controlled by a pilot activated lighting (PAL) system that was combined with an aerodrome frequency response unit. Two pilot activated lighting systems exist at Australian airports, Pilot Activated Lighting (PAL) and Aerodrome Frequency Response Unit plus PAL (AFRU+PAL). Hobart Airport is equipped with the ARFU+PAL type installation. The two systems differ in their activation methods.

A number of situational factors were associated with the crew not activating the runway lights prior to departure. Defining a specific place for PAL tasks in the crew’s sequence of procedures, and incorporating this into a pre-taxi checklist, could potentially ensure more reliability in performing these tasks.

Aviation Short Investigation Bulletin Issue 19



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General details
Date: 14 December 2012 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 2327 EsuT  
Location   (show map):Hobart Airport Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Tasmania Occurrence type: Runway - Other 
Release date: 29 May 2013 Occurrence class: Operational 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Incident 
 Highest injury level: None 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Airbus Industrie 
Aircraft model: A320 
Aircraft registration: VH-JQG 
Serial number: 2169 
Operator: Jetstar 
Type of operation: Air Transport High Capacity 
Damage to aircraft: Nil 
Departure point:Hobart, Tas.
Destination:Melbourne, Vic.
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Last update 18 April 2018