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.