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On the evening of 28 January 2013, VH‑YFF was being prepared for a scheduled passenger service from Canberra, Australian Capital Territory to the Gold Coast, Queensland. The crew were aware of adverse weather conditions being experienced at the time in south-east Queensland and had been monitoring the weather at the Gold Coast throughout the day.

During the approach, the crew reported that they were in cloud and experiencing rain and a strong right crosswind of about 40-50 kt. The Tower controller advised the crew that the crosswind on the ground was 21 kt. The captain reported that he was mindful of the wind conditions and was prepared to initiate a go-around.

At about 1,000 ft above mean sea level (AMSL), the crew became visual with the runway.

At about 100 ft, the captain noted that the airspeed trend vector was indicating a 20 kt decrease, likely the result of undershoot windshear. The captain momentarily increased engine thrust.

At about 2229, the aircraft touched down about 200 m further along the runway than intended. The first officer (FO) recalled the aircraft touched down on, or slightly right of the runway centreline. At that time, they were experiencing light rain.

After touchdown, the captain perceived that the aircraft was close to the left side of the runway, due to the proximity of the runway edge lights. The captain immediately applied right rudder, however, he inadvertently overcorrected, resulting in the aircraft veering to the right side of the runway. The captain applied left rudder and the runway centreline was regained. The aircraft was slowed to taxi speed and taxied to the terminal.

Due to the weather conditions and high workload at the time, the captain was not certain if the aircraft was pointing towards the runway edge before touchdown or if the aircraft aquaplaned after touchdown. The FO reported that it felt like the aircraft aquaplaned and drifted to the left.  However, after reviewing the flight data, the captain believed that the aircraft flared on centreline and drifted left before touchdown.

Through its SafetyWatch initiative, the ATSB is highlighting an increasing trend in problems with aircraft handling and flight profile when unexpected events arise during the approach to land. When compared to other phases of flight, the approach and landing has a substantially increased workload. Further details are available at www.atsb.gov.au/safetywatch/handling-approach-to-land.aspx


Aviation Short Investigation Bulletin  - Issue 23

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General details
Date: 31 January 2013 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 2229 EST  
Location   (show map):Gold Coast Airport Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Queensland Occurrence type: Loss of control 
Release date: 31 October 2013 Occurrence class: Operational 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Incident 
 Highest injury level: None 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: The Boeing Company 
Aircraft model: 737 
Aircraft registration: VH-YFF 
Serial number: 40994 
Operator: Virgin 
Type of operation: Air Transport High Capacity 
Sector: Jet 
Damage to aircraft: Nil 
Departure point:Canberra, ACT
Destination:Gold Coast Qld
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Last update 14 November 2018