An RAAF air traffic controller has been suspended after placing two Qantas aircraft on conflicting flightpaths over Darwin last week, according to the ATSB.
The safety regulator is investigating the “loss of separation assurance” between the Qantas 737 and QantasLink 717, which occurred when the arriving 717 was told to descend through the same level as the departing 737.
“An initial Defence investigation indicates that an air traffic controller inadvertently directed an arriving and a departing aircraft on a path that would have taken the aircraft through the same height,” a defence spokeswoman confirmed in a statement quoted by Fairfax.
“The aircraft safety systems identified the potential conflict and the air traffic controller immediately issued new instructions to separate the aircraft.”
Defence said the air traffic controller had been suspended as per standard procedure while an investigation moves forward.
The ATSB said the two aircraft were diverted before they breached separation standards.
The 717 was operated by Cobham Aviation on behalf of Qantas and was flying to Darwin from Alice Springs. The 737 was departing Darwin for Melbourne.