The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has published a preliminary report into the June 30 missed approach by a Tiger Airways A320 at Avalon Airport, during which it descended 400ft below the published minimum safe altitude for the area.
The aircraft, registration VH-VNC, callsign ‘Go Cat 6207′ was operating a flight from Sydney to Avalon and was on approach from the northwest to runway 18 at approximately 2300 when the crew elected to perform a go around and land on the reciprocal runway 36 due to a stronger than expected tailwind.
Following the go around, ATC directed the aircraft to turn left and climb to 3000ft and to reposition through a teardrop shaped approach for runway 36. During the downwind leg and subsequent turn onto finals, the aircraft descended to 1600ft without clearance and was advised as such by ATC, with ATC asking “are you happy with the terrain there?” The report says the crew responded that they were visual with the runway, and that the Captain instructed the FO to ignore the aircraft’s Multifunction Control Display Unit which would have had the altitude and approach data for the new runway. The aircraft landed safely soon after.
The incident is believed to have been the final catalyst for CASA’s grounding of the airline on July 1, after a similar minimum altitude breach at Melbourne Tullamarine the month before – reportedly by the same Captain – and other concerns leading up to the issuing of a ‘show cause’ notice to the airline by CASA in March.
A final report into the incident is expected to be handed down by April 2012.