Preliminary report released 18 July 2013
On the morning of 18 June 2013, a Boeing 737 aircraft, registered VH-YIR and operated by Virgin Australia, was conducting a scheduled passenger service from Brisbane, Queensland to Adelaide, South Australia. On board were six crew members and 85 passengers.
On the same morning, another B737 aircraft, registered VH-VYK and operated by Qantas Airways, was conducting a scheduled passenger service from Sydney, New South Wales, to Adelaide. On board were six crew and 146 passengers.
Due to poor weather in Adelaide, both aircraft were forced to divert to an alternate airport (Mildura, Victoria). This airport was also affected by unforecast poor weather at the time of their arrival.
The ATSB’s ongoing investigation will examine the:
- provision of information to flight crews from Air traffic services (ATS)
- ATS policies and procedures affecting the flights
- provision by the operators of information to the respective flight crews
- the basis for the sequencing of the aircraft landings at Mildura
- Bureau of Meteorology meteorological services and products as they applied to these flights
- accuracy of aviation meteorological products in Australia.
The information contained in this preliminary report is derived from the initial investigation of the occurrence. Readers are cautioned that there is the possibility that new evidence may become available that alters the circumstances as depicted in the report.
Updated: 2 July 2013
The ATSB is continuing its investigation into the circumstances surrounding the diversion of a B737 aircraft, registered VH-YIR (YIR) and operated by Virgin Australia, to Mildura, Victoria on 18 June 2013. The reduced visibility at Adelaide Airport, South Australia that led to the diversion also affected a number of other aircraft, including another B737. This aircraft, registered VH-VYK and operated by Qantas, was en route from Sydney, New South Wales to Adelaide before also diverting to Mildura.
As a result of its increased understanding of events, the ATSB has expanded the scope of its investigation to examine both of these diversions and their broader context. The investigation title has been amended to reflect this expanded investigation focus, which will include examination of the:
- forecasting and distribution of weather information by the Bureau of Meteorology
- provision of weather and operational information by Airservices Australia to all aircraft that were affected by the reduced visibility at Adelaide
- provision of weather and operational information to those aircraft by the operators
- influence on the flight crews’ decision making of that information flow.
A preliminary factual report into the circumstances of the occurrence is anticipated by 18 July 2013, and the final report is expected to be completed within 12 months.
The information contained in this web update is released in accordance with section 25 of the Transport Safety Investigation Act 2003 and is derived from the initial investigation of the occurrence. Readers are cautioned that new evidence will become available as the investigation progresses that will enhance the ATSB's understanding of the accident as outlined in this web update. As such, no analysis or findings are included in this update.
Updated: 19 June 2013
At about 1015 EST on 18 June 2013 air traffic control advised the ATSB of a fuel related occurrence involving a Boeing 737-8FE (B737), registered VH-YIR, at Mildura Airport, Victoria. The aircraft, operated by Virgin Australia, was en route from Brisbane, Queensland, to Adelaide, South Australia, with five crew and 86 passengers on board when the crew diverted the aircraft to Mildura.
The aircraft had departed Brisbane at about 0630 that morning and carried sufficient fuel for the flight to Adelaide. On the basis of the weather forecasts at the time the aircraft departed Brisbane, there was no requirement to provide for an alternate airport to Adelaide. As the aircraft approached Adelaide, fog reduced the visibility at the airport to below the minimum required for landing. The crew diverted to Mildura and the aircraft landed safely at Mildura Airport at about 1010 following two instrument approaches.
The fog at Adelaide was not forecast when the aircraft left Brisbane. A number of other aircraft, in addition to the B737, returned to their departure airports or diverted to alternate airports as a result of the reduced visibility at Adelaide Airport.
The ATSB commenced an investigation at about 1100 on 18 June 2013 and the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder were removed from the aircraft and forwarded to the ATSB’s facilities in Canberra for download. The investigation is continuing and will involve:
- examination of the recorded information
- interviews with the flight crew of this and other affected aircraft
- examination of the operator’s procedures
- review of the relevant radio and radar data
- examination of the relevant weather observations and forecasts.