Emirates A388 at Melbourne on Jul 14th 2016, descended below minimum assigned altitude

Last Update: May 6, 2020 / 17:49:43 GMT/Zulu time

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Incident Facts

Date of incident
Jul 14, 2016

Classification
Incident

Flight number
EK-407

Aircraft Registration
A6-EDM

Aircraft Type
Airbus A380-800

ICAO Type Designator
A388

An Emirates Airlines Airbus A380-800, registration A6-EDM performing flight EK-407 from Auckland (New Zealand) to Melbourne,VI (Australia), was on a RNP approach to Melbourne's runway 34 but descended below the minimum assigned altitude of 3000 feet MSL about 11nm before the runway threshold. ATC instructed the aircraft to climb back to 3000 feet. The aircraft climbed back and continued for a safe landing on runway 34.

Australia's TSB reported that the aircraft descended below the minimum assigned altitude of 3000 feet and outside controlled airspace. The controller alerted the crew, the aircraft climbed back to 3000 feet. The occurrence was rated an incident, an investigation has been opened.

On May 6th 2020 the ATSB reported they have aborted the investigation reasoning "Based on a review of the available evidence, the ATSB considered it was unlikely that further investigation would identify any systemic safety issues. Additionally, the ATSB strives to use its limited resources for maximum safety benefit, and considers that in this case, due to proactive safety action by the operator and air services provider, the ongoing risk is minimal. Consequently, the ATSB has discontinued this investigation."

The ATSB stated comparing the Charts by AIP Australia and the charts by Lido used by Emirates:

The investigation identified a difference in the profile view of the approach charts used by Airservices Australia and those used by Emirates, which may have contributed to the occurrence (see below).

Due to the size of an A380, the aircraft had to land on runway 34, despite runway 27 being in use for all other arrivals. This requirement led to track shortening being issued by the controllers in both incidents to keep the aircrafts’ place in the arrival sequence, and to ensure separation from other arriving and departing aircraft. Analysis of the flight data showed that both aircraft were operating in pilot selected modes as they descended out of controlled airspace, chosen by the flight crew to manage the reduced track distance flown. This meant that protections in the Airbus flight management system which would automatically level the aircraft at the 3,000 ft restriction were inhibited.

Following the incidents, the operator prohibited their A380 flight crew from conducting RNP approaches in Australia and New Zealand.

In May 2017, Melbourne Airport reassessed the standard instrument approach paths in operation at the airport, as part of the implementation of a ground based augmentation system, and the Runway 34 RNP approach was removed.

Additionally, in November 2017, Airservices Australia aligned production of their charts, and the associated phraseology, to International Civil Aviation Organisation standards. This meant that all speed restrictions were published directly onto the chart, and that climb and descent clearances issued via a SID or STAR included an altitude clearance level, in addition to the published limit on the charts.
Incident Facts

Date of incident
Jul 14, 2016

Classification
Incident

Flight number
EK-407

Aircraft Registration
A6-EDM

Aircraft Type
Airbus A380-800

ICAO Type Designator
A388

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