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ATSB investigates Virgin Australia ATR 72 landing incident

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) is investigating an incident in which a Virgin Australia ATR 72-500 landed at Moranbah airport while a safety car was also on the runway.

The serious incident, which has been described as an “air-ground communications event,” occurred on 5 March, the ATSB says. The registration of the aircraft involved is VH-FVI.

“The flight crew and vehicle driver reported not hearing any radio calls. As part of the investigation, the ATSB will interview the flight crew, vehicle driver, and gather additional information,” it says.

Moranbah is located in Queensland and the airport does not have radar or air traffic control. It is operated by mining company BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance. It supports coal mining operations in the Bowen basin.

The investigation is expected to be concluded by June 2014, the ATSB adds.

It is the third incident involving Virgin aircraft operating services to Moranbah in the last two years. In July 2013 the ATSB started an investigation into an incident where the right undercarriage of an ATR 72-600 left the runway during landing. Prior to that, in May another ATR 72 landing at Moranbah received several terrain alert warning system alarms during an approach to the airfield.

All of Virgin’s ATRs are operated by subsidiary Virgin Australia Regional Airlines (VARA), the new name for the former Skywest Airlines which Virgin acquired in April 2013.

Earlier this year, Virgin confirmed that it was delaying delivery of some of its ATR 72s while it worked on integration issues with VARA in consultation with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

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