Aviation safety investigations & reports

Loading event involving Boeing 737, VH-VYE, Brisbane Airport, Queensland, on 1 February 2018

Investigation number:
Status: Discontinued


Discontinued investigation notice

Published: 3 August 2018

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 6 February 2018, the ATSB commenced an investigation into an aircraft loading event involving a Qantas Boeing 737, VH-VYE, at Brisbane Airport, Queensland that occurred on 1 February 2018.

During takeoff, the first officer, in their role as pilot flying, noted that the aircraft rotated at a slower rate than expected with a resultant higher than normal initial climb speed. The crew later observed a large tour group of children/adolescents onboard, seated together primarily aft of the over wing exits. The crew did not know the age of the passengers in the group or if they were recorded correctly for weight and balance purposes.

The ATSB obtained additional information from the operator that confirmed a tour group of 96 passengers was onboard. The age of the group ranged between 14-16 years old, which classified them as adults in the operator’s load control system. The operator confirmed that the loading, take-off performance figures, and speed/trim settings were correct for the conditions of that flight. The operator noted however that it was possible the positioning of the tour group of adolescents, with slight frames, likely affected the feel of the aircraft on rotation. The operator and pilot confirmed the aircraft was at all times controllable, however increased backpressure was required to rotate the aircraft.

The ATSB reviewed the additional information provided by the operator into this occurrence as well as information relating to previous loading occurrences involving the operator. Based on this review, the ATSB considered it was very unlikely that further investigation would identify any systemic safety issues. Consequently, the ATSB has discontinued this investigation, but will continue to monitor loading occurrences involving all operators.

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.


Initial summary

The ATSB is investigating a loading event involving a Boeing 737, VH-VYE at Brisbane Airport, Queensland, on 1 February 2018.

During takeoff, the aircraft rotated at a slower rate and required a high initial climb speed than normal. The crew detected that a number of child passengers had been incorrectly recorded as adults for weight and balance purposes.

As part of the investigation, the ATSB will interview airline staff, review recorded data, and gather additional information.

A final report will be released at the end of the investigation.

Should a critical safety issue be identified during the course of the investigation, the ATSB will immediately notify those affected and seek safety action to address the issue.

General details
Date: 01 February 2018   Investigation status: Discontinued  
Time: 1112 EST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Brisbane Airport    
State: Queensland   Occurrence type: Loading related  
Release date: 03 August 2018   Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Discontinued   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer The Boeing Company  
Aircraft model 737-838  
Aircraft registration VH-VYE  
Serial number 33993  
Operator Qantas Airways  
Type of operation Air Transport High Capacity  
Sector Jet  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Brisbane, Qld  
Destination Sydney, NSW  
Last update 03 December 2018