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On the morning of 4 August 2016, Qantas Flight QF61, an Airbus A330 aircraft, registered VH‑QPC, was prepared for departure from Brisbane Airport, Queensland, for a flight to Narita Airport, Tokyo, Japan.

The flight was dispatched with one of the aircraft’s two global positioning systems (GPS) units recorded as unserviceable using Saipan Airport as their enroute alternate. As QF61 travelled north along the east coast of Australia, the captain became uncomfortable with their decision to accept the aircraft with an unserviceable GPS. The captain reviewed the flight plan and the publications, and concluded they needed two serviceable GPS units for their planned flight to use Saipan Airport as an alternate. The captain identified Guam Airport as a suitable alternate airport in lieu of Saipan Airport and the flight continued to Narita Airport and landed without further incident.

This incident highlights the importance of personnel challenging their own assumptions when something does not appear right in the environment. After the dispatch of QF61 from Brisbane Airport, the captain experienced a ‘gut feeling’ that something was not right. Rather than ignore their sense of unease, the captain reviewed the flight plan and company documents, identified the problem and resolved the issue so that the flight could continue without compromising safety. Throughout the process, they kept the other flight crewmembers informed of the problem they had identified and their decision-making, which enabled the crew to provide feedback to the captain.

Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 54

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General details
Date: 04 August 2016 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 10:00 EST  
Location   (show map):Brisbane Airport Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Queensland Occurrence type: Aircraft Separation 
Release date: 22 November 2016 Occurrence class: Operational 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Incident 
 Highest injury level: None 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Airbus 
Aircraft model: A330-303 
Aircraft registration: VH-QPC 
Serial number: 0564 
Operator: Qantas Airways 
Type of operation: Air Transport High Capacity 
Sector: Jet 
Damage to aircraft: Nil 
Departure point:Brisbane, Qld
Destination:Tokyo, Japan
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Last update 14 November 2018