Aviation safety investigations & reports

Loss of separation involving Airbus A330, 9M-XXC and Airbus A320, VH-VFO near Gold Coast Airport, Qld on 21 July 2016

Investigation number:
Status: Active
Investigation in progress


Updated: 25 August 2017

Completion of the draft investigation report has been delayed by the involvement of the investigator in charge on other aviation safety investigations and tasks however, all factual data has been sourced and reviewed. The draft report is now anticipated for release to directly involved parties (DIP) for comment in February 2018. Feedback from those parties over the 28-day DIP period on the factual accuracy of the draft report will be considered for inclusion in the final report, which is anticipated to be released to the public in May 2018.



Updated: 31 August 2016

The Airbus A330 was departing Gold Coast Airport for Auckland, New Zealand while the A320 was arriving from Avalon, Victoria. Both aircraft were in visual meteorological conditions (VMC)[1] and the flight crews of both aircraft had the other aircraft in sight.

At the request of air traffic control (ATC), the flight crew of the A330 reported the A320 in sight and was instructed to pass behind that aircraft and climb. As the A330 climbed, both flight crew received a TCAS RA. Separation reduced to about 600 ft vertically and 0.35 NM (630 m) laterally. The required separation standard was 1,000 ft and 3 NM (6 km). The controller also received a short-term conflict alert (STCA).[2]

Although there was a loss of separation, there was no collision risk as both crews smoothly completed the advisory manoeuvres associated with the TCAS RA.

The investigation is continuing and will focus on:

  • in the context of a dynamic situation, the instructions provided by ATC and the response by the A330 flight crew
  • the activation of the STCA and ATC surveillance data.


[1]     Visual Meteorological Conditions (VMC): weather conditions in which pilots have sufficient visibility to fly the aircraft while maintaining visual separation from terrain and other aircraft.

[2]     Short-term conflict alert (STCA): a system to warn the controller of a situation where the minimum separation standard between surveillance tracks is, or is predicted to be within a short time, violated. This is achieved via a visual alert on the controller’s surveillance display coupled with an audible alert.


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.





Update: 29 July 2016

At 1532 Eastern Standard Time on 21 July 2016 the ATSB was notified of an occurrence involving a Jetstar A320 aircraft, and an A330 operated by Malaysian carrier, Air Asia X, that occurred near Gold Coast Airport, Queensland.

The ATSB commenced an investigation on 26 July 2016. As part of this investigation, the ATSB will obtain air traffic control radar and audio information, interview the involved air traffic controllers and flight crews, and gather additional information.

While these aircraft came closer than normal separation standards there was no risk of collision as the systems and the aircraft crews manoeuvred to avoid any further conflict.

At this stage the details of the occurrence are yet to be verified and are limited to the notifications provided by Airservices Australia, Jetstar and Air Asia X.

The ATSB will publicly release an update within the next few weeks on its investigation. The update will outline the facts as we know them at that time.



The flightpaths of the inbound Airbus A320 and the outbound Airbus A330 resulted in a loss of separation. Both aircraft received a traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS) [1] resolution advisory (RA), [2] with the crew of the A320 conducting a climb to increase separation.

[1] Traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS) is an aircraft collision avoidance system. It monitors the airspace around an aircraft for other aircraft equipped with a corresponding active transponder and gives warning of possible collision risks.
[2] Traffic Collision Avoidance System Resolution Advisory, when an RA is issued pilots are expected to respond immediately to the RA unless doing so would jeopardize the safe operation of the flight.

General details
Date: 21 July 2016   Investigation status: Active  
Time: 11:42 EST   Investigation level: Complex - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Gold Coast Airport, E 28 km   Investigation phase: Examination and analysis  
State: Queensland   Occurrence type: Loss of separation  
  Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Pending   Highest injury level: None  
Anticipated completion: 2nd Quarter 2019    

Aircraft 1 details

Aircraft 1 details
Aircraft manufacturer Airbus  
Aircraft model A330-343X  
Aircraft registration 9M-XXC  
Serial number 1048  
Operator Air Asia  
Type of operation Air Transport High Capacity  
Sector Jet  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Gold Coast, Qld  
Destination Auckland, NZ  

Aircraft 2 details

Aircraft 2 details
Aircraft manufacturer Airbus  
Aircraft model A320-232  
Aircraft registration VH-VFO  
Serial number 5631  
Operator Jetstar Airways  
Type of operation Air Transport High Capacity  
Sector Jet  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Avalon, Vic.  
Destination Gold Coast, Qld  
Last update 03 April 2019