Qantas 747 involved in weight-data inquiry at Melbourne

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Australian investigators are examining a weight-data event on a Qantas Boeing 747-400 at Melbourne, days after completing inquiries into the Emirates weight-data accident at the same airport.

While details are sketchy the Australian Transport Safety Bureau said the occurrence involved a 747-400 (VH-OJM) bound for Sydney on 22 December.

"Prior to departure the crew detected an incorrect zero fuel weight on the loadsheet," said the ATSB.

Just six days before the 747 incident the ATSB published its final report into the Emirates Airbus A340-500 tail-strike during departure at Melbourne in March 2009, which badly damaged the jet and occurred after failure to detect a serious error in weight data.

The ATSB has been particularly focused on the problem of erroneous weight and balance data, and conducted an in-depth review into more than 30 instances between 1989 and 2009.

It found that the most common contributing safety factors related to crew actions - such as monitoring and checking - followed by inadequate risk controls, including poor procedures.

In its report into the Emirates accident the ATSB also highlighted the "inability" of flight crew to perform "reasonableness checks" to gauge whether parameters were suitable for flight, and added that this oversight was a "consistent aspect" of such occurrences.