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Airservices revising takeoff procedures after near misses at MEL

written by australianaviation.com.au | May 2, 2012

A Qantas 767 and Virgin 737 were involved in a loss-of-separation incident after taking off from Melbourne Airport in 2010. (John Absolon)

Airservices Australia is revising its takeoff procedures after a pair of passenger jets came dangerously close to each other as they climbed away from Melbourne Airport in 2010.

According to an ATSB investigation released today, the December 5 2010 incident occurred when a Virgin Australia 737 departed Melbourne followed by a Qantas 767 travelling at a faster speed. Air traffic controllers did not recognise that the 737 had reduced its speed, resulting in a loss of separation between the two aircraft to 1.9nm (3.5km), the ATSB report said.

A similar incident occurred at Melbourne Airport on October 12 2011 involving a Jetstar A320 and a Virgin 737, the report added.

“The ATSB identified a safety issue in that the procedures for takeoffs at Melbourne Airport allowed for aircraft to depart relatively close to each other, with no documented requirements to ensure jet aircraft would maintain a set climb speed or to require flightcrews to advise air traffic control if that speed could not be achieved,” the report said.

“In response to the identified safety issue, Airservices Australia has commenced action to establish a standard speed profile for use at radar terminal area aerodromes in Australia, and to ensure that pilots of jet aircraft notify air traffic control when operating at a significantly lower speed than stipulated in that profile.”

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