The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) is investigating two separate flight below minimum altitude occurrences 40 km south of Cairns Airport, Queensland. The first involved a Virgin Australia Boeing 737, registered VH-VUT, on 24 October, and the other a Qantas Boeing 737, registered VH-VZA, on 26 October 2022.
In both occurrences, the aircraft were following a standard arrival route (STAR), when they were inadvertently descended below the minimum safe altitude. On each occasion, air traffic control identified the aircraft's descent and alerted their flight crew. The flights in both cases were then completed without further incident.
As part of the investigation, ATSB investigators will interview the flight crews of the aircraft involved, other involved persons, examine flight and weather data, operator procedures and collect other relevant evidence for each occurrence.
A final report will be released at the conclusion of the investigation. Should a critical safety issue be identified during the course of the investigation, the ATSB will immediately notify relevant parties, so that appropriate safety action can be taken.