Qantas B738 at Cairns on Oct 26th 2022, descended below minimum safe altitude
Last Update: February 28, 2023 / 22:49:51 GMT/Zulu time
Date of incident
Oct 26, 2022
ICAO Type Designator
The ATSB released their preliminary report summarizing the sequence of events:
At 0739, in daylight, while the aircraft was in cruise at FL 380 about 225 NM to the south of Cairns, ATC provided the crew with clearance to conduct the Cairns HENDO 8Y STAR via the BARIA waypoint transition.
The flight crew entered the HENDO 8Y STAR into the FMC and selected the BARIA transition. While clearance for the RNP Y runway 33 approach had not been provided at that time, the crew anticipated the clearance and loaded the approach. The crew believed that they had only been cleared for the BARIA STAR transition and had not yet received clearance for the HENDO approach transition, and therefore did not select that transition. As the selection had not been made, the FMC did not load the instrument approach segment from the IAF to the IF and presented a discontinuity between HENDO and the IAF waypoint CS540 (see the section titled Flight management computer).
The crew noted that the waypoints CS522 and CS523 were missing from the track presented on the navigation display and contacted ATC to request confirmation of the STAR clearance. ATC then provided a clearance for the HENDO 8Y STAR with a FISHY transition. The crew reviewed the STAR chart and assessed that they could not achieve the required descent profile to proceed via FISHY and requested confirmation of the STAR transition. ATC then confirmed the STAR transition was via BARIA.
The flight crew noted that the track from HENDO to CS540 passed over the locations of CS522 and CS523. As there was no cloud along the flight path and terrain was visible, the crew were not reliant on FMC programming for terrain clearance. As such, the crew decided to join the discontinuity at HENDO to CS540 to proceed with the approach. The captain also selected an altitude 6,800 ft in the autopilot mode control panel.
At 0808:20, when the aircraft was 18 NM east of HENDO with the autopilot engaged and descending through about FL110, ATC provided the crew with clearance to conduct the RNP Y runway 33 approach.
At 0810:42, when the aircraft was about 7 NM east of HENDO, the captain selected 5,500 ft in the autopilot mode control panel and the aircraft descended below 6,800 ft, and 34 seconds later below the 6,500 ft MSA.
The aircraft passed HENDO at 0811:56 at an altitude of about 6,125 ft. Eleven seconds later, ATC contacted the crew to confirm that the aircraft had passed HENDO at the correct altitude. ATC then confirmed with the crew that the flight was operating in visual conditions and provided clearance for a visual approach. The aircraft landed at Cairns without further incident.
Aircraft Registration Data
Date of incident
Oct 26, 2022
ICAO Type Designator
This article is published under license from Avherald.com. © of text by Avherald.com.
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