Aviation safety investigations & reports

Airspeed management occurrence involving Airbus A320, VH-JQG, Sydney Airport, NSW on 25 June 2013

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed

Final Report

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What happened

On 25 June 2013, the flight crew of an Airbus A320-232 aircraft, registered VH-JQG and operated by Jetstar Airways (Jetstar), was conducting an instrument landing system approach with autoland training at Sydney Airport, New South Wales.

During the approach, the training captain (pilot flying) disconnected the autothrust system by retarding the thrust levers to the IDLE STOP, and asked the first officer to assess the effect on the proposed approach. After briefly referring to the Quick Reference Handbook, the crew extended the landing gear and wing flap, and finalised the pre-landing checklist. The flight crew then became involved in a discussion about the requirements in the handbook for the proposed approach.

With engine thrust at idle and the aircraft in a high drag configuration, the airspeed quickly reduced to below the minimum approach speed. The captain was in the process of applying thrust when the aircraft’s alpha-floor protection system activated. Take-off/go-around thrust was automatically commanded by this system and the flight crew conducted a missed approach.

What the ATSB found

The ATSB found that during an autoland training exercise with the autothrust disengaged, both pilots were distracted by their consideration of a training scenario. As a result, they did not identify the airspeed reducing below the target approach speed in sufficient time to prevent activation of the aircraft’s alpha-floor protection system.

The ATSB also found that during the autoland training exercise, the training captain directed the first officer to set hypothetical minima/decision heights in the autoflight system in support of the training scenario. These heights were not applicable to the instrument approach being flown and the practice was not approved by Jetstar. The resulting increased workload impacted on the first officer’s capacity to effectively fulfil the pilot monitoring role.

What's been done as a result

As a result of this occurrence, Jetstar issued a memo to its check and training pilots highlighting the requirements for autoland training. The memo reiterated that flight crew must only use the minima for the approach being flown.

Safety message

This occurrence demonstrates the risks associated with conducting training exercises during periods of high workload. Training pilots need to be cognisant of trainee experience and capability and ensure that the training exercise never compromises the primary task of monitoring/flying the aircraft.

Download Final report
[Download  PDF: 621KB]
Alternate: [Download  DOCX: 187KB]

The occurrence


Safety analysis


Safety issues and actions

Sources and submissions

General details
Date: 25 June 2013   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1025 EST   Investigation level: Defined - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Sydney Airport    
State: New South Wales   Occurrence type: Unstable approach  
Release date: 29 September 2015   Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Airbus  
Aircraft model A320  
Aircraft registration VH-JQG  
Serial number 2169  
Operator Jetstar Airways  
Type of operation Air Transport High Capacity  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Ballina, NSW  
Destination Sydney, NSW  
Last update 14 November 2018