Aviation safety investigations & reports

Loading event involving Airbus A320, VH-VFN, Sydney Airport, NSW, on 8 September 2016

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed

Final Report

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On 8 September 2016, at about 1900 Eastern Standard Time, an Airbus A320-232 aircraft, registered VH-VFN, was being loaded at Sydney Airport, New South Wales, to operate Jetstar flight JQ820 from Sydney to Brisbane, Queensland.

The leading hand assigned to loading the aircraft had received the deadload weight statement (DWS) for the cargo from the cargo terminal operator (CTO), and printed out a copy to refer to while loading the aircraft. The DWS listed three containers of freight and the CTO had previously delivered three containers to the loading bay from their facility. The leading hand checked the containers with those listed on the DWS. Two of the three listed containers were correct, however, the third was listed on the DWS with number 4183 and a gross weight of 240 kg, while the container on the bay was number 1483, which was subsequently found to have had a gross weight of 900 kg.

The container card associated with, and attached to the container also had number 4183 on it. The leading hand assumed that the freight handler had inadvertently transposed the first two digits of the container number from 14 to 41, entered that onto the card and transferred the error onto the DWS. The leading hand therefore amended the card and the DWS with the actual number of the container (1483), and entered that container number onto the underfloor load advice (ULA) as it was loaded onto the aircraft.

At about 1915, the leading hand completed loading the aircraft and took the paperwork, including the DWS and ULA, to the flight deck. The captain sighted the amendments and the leading hand affirmed, as they believed at the time, that the weight was correct and the container number was now correct on the DWS and ULA. 

The aircraft departed on time at about 1925. The flight crew were not aware of the discrepancy during the flight and did not encounter any handling or control issues on take-off or receive any abnormal indications.

This incident highlights how being service oriented to increase efficiency can inadvertently bypass safety-related risk controls.


Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 55

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General details
Date: 08 September 2016   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 10:00 EST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Sydney Airport    
State: New South Wales   Occurrence type: Loading related  
Release date: 14 December 2016   Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Airbus  
Aircraft model A320-232  
Aircraft registration VH-VFN  
Serial number 5566  
Operator Jetstar Airways  
Type of operation Air Transport High Capacity  
Sector Jet  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Sydney, NSW  
Destination Brisbane, Qld  
Last update 14 November 2018