Tiger A320 at Sydney and Perth on Mar 3rd 2014, incorrect flight plan and fuel issues

Last Update: November 14, 2017 / 15:14:39 GMT/Zulu time

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Incident Facts

Date of incident
Mar 3, 2014

Classification
Report

Flight number
TT-937

Destination
Perth, Australia

Aircraft Registration
VH-VNJ

Aircraft Type
Airbus A320

ICAO Type Designator
A320

A Tiger Airways Australia Airbus A320-200, registration VH-VNJ performing flight TT-937 from Sydney,NS to Perth,WA (Australia) with 177 passengers, was preparing for departure from Sydney estimated to arrive in Perth shortly before night curfew. The operational flight plan was delivered to the flight crew with delay, the flight crew recognized that the flight plan had been in error being based only on the dry operating weight without including any payload and passengers. With the night curfew looming, the difficulties and additional delay needed to fetch a new flight plan at the terminal (which would have added a further delay of 20 minutes), the difficulties to raise the chief pilot (who did not respond to the phone calls), the captain decided first officer and he himself would recompute the fuel figures needed, they had correct data of the mass and balance data, and assessed, that instead of 9,261 kg of fuel as on the operational flight plan they'd need 13,500 kg of fuel. In addition the crew decided to apply increased monitoring of the fuel consumption during the flight, compute early their point at where they would be committed to land at the destination and ensure that weather conditions were favourable at that point too. Following the uplift of fuel topping up to 13,520 kg of fuel in the tanks the aircraft departed, the flight crew monitored the fuel consumption and was satisfied they could reach Perth with sufficient fuel to meet the (legal) requirements of final fuel reserve. The aircraft landed safely with 1,914 kg of fuel remaining in the tanks (minimum fuel remaining was required at 1,139 kg).

Australia's TSB released their final report reporting the correct fuel amount should have been at least 15,343kg and concluding the most probable causes of the incident were:

Contributing factors

- On identifying that the operational flight plan for the Sydney to Perth sector had been based on an incorrect aircraft weights, resulting in the fuel calculation and subsequent fuel plan being significantly in error, the aircraft captain chose to re-calculate the required fuel load using resources available on the flight deck. The required fuel load calculated and uplifted did not include the operator's requirement to carry a '60 minute top-up' additional fuel, resulting in the aircraft departing with a fuel load that was below that required under the company's operations manual.

- There were deficiencies within the processes and procedures used by the operator's Operational Control Centre that permitted incorrect operational flight plans to be produced and subsequently provided to flight crew.

- The operator provided limited guidance and assistance for flight crews on the processes and procedures for correcting identified fuel planning errors. For the occurrence flight crew, this lack of guidance, as well as the remoteness of resources that could assist, resulted in the decision to determine a correct required fuel load calculation using only those resources available on the flight deck.

Other findings

- All company and regulatory in-flight fuel requirements for the flight from Sydney to Perth were met, and the aircraft landed with fuel in excess of the required fuel reserves.

The ATSB analysed:

Operations Control Center (OCC) deficiencies

The inaccurate Operational Flight Plan (OFP) was the result of deficiencies within the processes and procedures used by the operator's OCC. While the operator’s 2013 internal audit of the OCC did not identify any deficiencies in processes or procedures, particularly along the lines of those exposed by this occurrence, the subsequent investigations initiated as a result of the occurrence and the 2014 audit identified a number of relevant deficiencies.

The 2014 audit identified an increased risk to the production of an OFP due to process issues and training of OCC staff. Specifically related to this occurrence were the audit’s comments and observations identifying that there were no system defences able to detect errors introduced through manual data entry or automated updating before the OFP was transmitted to flight crew. Therefore, the principal defence in identifying any errors was the vigilance of the flight crew. This increased the risk that, in a time pressured environment of pre-flight planning, flight crews could either overlook incorrect data and accept an incorrect OFP, or as occurred in this occurrence, identify the error and be required to calculate the fuel upload requirement themselves. However, on this occasion and the other three occasions identified in the internal investigation, the flight crew did discover the error.

Guidance on OFP errors

Correcting the occurrence flight’s OFP error was further complicated by the limited guidance and assistance that the operator provided to correct errors in fuel calculation. While the OFP contained information with respect to increased fuel burn for every one tonne increase in take-off weight, there was no guidance on the limits to which this information could be used, nor at what point gross error in the take-off weight required a new OFP to be produced. For the occurrence flight crew, this lack of guidance, as well as the remoteness of resources that could assist, influenced the decision to determine a correct required fuel load calculation using only those resources available on the flight deck. Due to the short layover between sectors, which was in turn further aggravated by curfew restrictions, this increased the risk of critical fuel planning considerations being overlooked.
Aircraft Registration Data
Registration mark
VH-VNJ
Country of Registration
Australia
Date of Registration
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Airworthyness Category
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TCDS Ident. No.
Manufacturer
AIRBUS INDUSTRIE
Aircraft Model / Type
A320-232
ICAO Aircraft Type
A320
Year of Manufacture
Serial Number
Maximum Take off Mass (MTOM) [kg]
Engine Count
Engine
MjeAcggq AidbdAceihkkjq jbepdmbllglnApmlmqm Subscribe to unlock
Main Owner
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Main Operator
Jd ellppcmbgjlpjk fp e pAhliknemlmkq mcegekqhppbjibmibenAlmjniiblmfccecqmkcgidhbeeeipfecAcgiqfbnipebfpidp Subscribe to unlock
Incident Facts

Date of incident
Mar 3, 2014

Classification
Report

Flight number
TT-937

Destination
Perth, Australia

Aircraft Registration
VH-VNJ

Aircraft Type
Airbus A320

ICAO Type Designator
A320

This article is published under license from Avherald.com. © of text by Avherald.com.
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