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​Qantas A330 take-off weight discrepancy spurs procedural changes

Qantas Airways has changed its loading procedures from Bangkok after an Airbus A330-300 aircraft departed with a 2,785kg load discrepancy owing to a miscommunication among ground staff.

The incident occurred on 23 July 2015 and involved the aircraft registered VH-QPJ, says the Australian Transport Safety Board (ATSB) in a statement. The aircraft was operating flight QF24 on the Bangkok Suvarnabhumi-Sydney route.

A miscommunication during two phone calls between loading supervisor in Bangkok and Qanta’s load controller in Warsaw, Poland led to a container being mistakenly left aboard the aircraft in position 23P.

As a result, the data the crew used to calculate reference speeds for take-off, fuel consumption rates, and initial climb altitude were inaccurate. Nonetheless, the aircraft took off at midday and the crew noticed no abnormal flight characteristics, or receive any warnings related to the A330s weight and balance.

After the aircraft had departed, the load controller realised the error, and contacted Qantas Integrated Operations Control, which alerted the crew 75 minutes after takeoff.

The crew amended the aircraft weight in the flight management computer and the flight proceeded without further event.

“As a result of the discrepancies, Qantas advised that the maximum taxi weight had been exceeded by 1,585 kg, and the maximum take-off weight by 2,085 kg,” says the ATSB. “The initial cruise altitude of 35,000 ft did not exceed the maximum altitude when the actual weight was subsequently entered into the aircraft flight management computer.”

Qantas reviewed the incident, and has made changes for all flights out of Bangkok. Namely that the aircraft’s loading supervisor must get a scanned copy of the aircraft’s final load instruction report before transmitting the final load sheet to the crew via the aircraft reporting and addressing system (ACARS).

In addition, it has undertaken training to improve communications between ground staff, and other administrative changes.

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