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Final Report

Summary

On 9 September 2016, at about 0005 Eastern Standard Time, an AirAsia X Airbus A330-343X, registered 9M-XXK pushed back from gate D12 to disconnect point S7 at Melbourne Airport, Victoria, to operate scheduled passenger flight D7213 to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The aircraft maintenance engineer (AME) conducting the pushback was provided by a contracted company, the tug and tug driver were provided by a third company.

At 0008, after both engines were started, the AME disconnected the headset and tow bar from both the aircraft and the tug, the AME also removed the bypass pin. The tug driver turned the tug around to allow the AME to attach the tow bar to the rear of the tug. The tug driver then moved the tug and tow bar to a position forward of the aircraft’s right engine and visible to the first officer. The AME then walked to a position in front of the tug, and displayed the bypass pin to the first officer. Sighting the bypass pin was the final item on the flight crew’s after start checklist. The flight crew then contacted ATC and obtained a taxi clearance.

At 0009, the first officer confirmed to the captain that the AME and tug were clear, the captain then began to taxi. At this time, the AME was walking towards the left side of the tug, which remained parked forward of the aircraft’s right engine and wing. As the AME walked, they detected the aircraft’s taxi light illuminate and the aircraft begin to move. The AME then ran toward the tug door and alerted the tug driver to the aircraft movement.

Video footage of the incident shows the tug driver taking action to avoid a collision with the taxiing aircraft.

This incident highlights the importance of separate operators working closely together and having procedures which are well harmonised. It is also important that these procedures are well understood and practiced by all individuals involved from the different operators to ensure all parties understand their role but also how their role interacts with other parties.

 

Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 57

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