Section 21 (2) of the Transport Safety Investigation Act 2003 (TSI Act) empowers the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) to discontinue an investigation into a transport safety matter at any time. Section 21 (3) of the TSI Act requires the ATSB to publish a statement setting out the reasons for discontinuing an investigation.
On 15 September 2017, the ATSB commenced an investigation into an aircraft loading event involving Saab 340, VH-ZRB, Sydney Airport, New South Wales on 14 September 2017.
The flight was originally planned to be conducted in a different aircraft, and the captain had advised the trim staff that 239 kg of freight could be loaded. There were subsequently two aircraft changes prior to departure. After the flight crew had been assigned VH-ZRB to conduct the flight, the captain advised the trim staff that the 239 kg of freight was not to be loaded on the aircraft due to weight limitations. The trim staff advised the baggage staff of the change.
There was subsequently a misunderstanding between the baggage staff and the loader, resulting in the loader believing that a barrow containing passenger baggage and freight was approved to be loaded on to VH-ZRB. Subsequent communications between the loader and the trim staff were not conducted in accordance with the operator’s loading and freight confirmation procedure, and the error was not detected until after the aircraft had departed. Subsequent calculations revealed that the aircraft departed Sydney about 77 kg over the aircraft’s maximum take-off weight.
The ATSB obtained the operator’s investigation report into the occurrence and related material, and reviewed previous loading occurrences involving the operator. Based on this information, the ATSB considered it was very unlikely that further investigation would identify any systemic safety issues. The ATSB has discontinued the investigation, but will continue to monitor loading occurrences involving all operators.