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Jetstar, Virgin aircraft in Melbourne ground incident

written by australianaviation.com.au | August 12, 2013

A Virgin Australia 737-800 on pushback from its gate at Melbourne Airport clipped the tail of a Jetstar A320 waiting to park at a nearby stand on August 10.

As the Virgin aircraft, VH-YID, was pushing back from the Virgin domestic terminal for its flight to the Sunshine Coast with 175 passengers on board, the 737’s left wing came into contact with the stationary Jetstar aircraft, VH-VGR, which was waiting to park at a gate at the international terminal, causing damage to the A320’s tail cone.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau is investigating, and is likely to look at  the air traffic control clearance for the Virgin aircraft’s pushback and the communications with air traffic control from the Jetstar pilots regarding their holding short of their designated bay.

The Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Associaiton, meanwhile, has used the event to highlight safety concerns following recent decisions to remove ground engineers from assisting with pushbacks.

“The money they have saved over the past 12 months (by the changes) would have all been swallowed up as a result of this,” ALAEA president Paul Cousins was quoted as saying.


On the pprune website, ALAEA federal secretary Steve Purvinas wrote: “Oddly it was last Wednesday that the ALAEA received a letter from Virgin declaring their intent to reduce the number of engineers in Melbourne to make way for more tarmac responsibility to be passed to ramp staff. Yes anyone can make a mistake but there are some key differences. No engineer will push a plane back for at least four years and the average one will have over 20 years’ experience. Rampies can be pushing aircraft out after six weeks, for most it is just a job until they find something better or their backs are shot.”

Argued Purvinas: “This would not have happened if they used wing walkers. The requirement for wing walkers on congested aprons is outlined in the respective aircraft maintenance manuals. Rampies cannot access maintenance manuals.”


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Comments (9)

  • Bob Livingstone


    Give me a wing-walker any day!

  • James


    AA, you can not be serious? You are quoting a forum that could be anyone from a student to a pensioner! It is not a factual source and you should really have a look at where your information comes from.

    PPRUNE is a rumour network and should have no premise in the media!

  • Pontious


    On the contrary James PPrune ranges from the rumour end to one of the widest non attributable safety networks around.
    The more important point is that “Ramp Rash” is one of the best buried costs in the business. No one wants to get involved in the mess of liability involving subcontractors, airport marking and other issues because at the end of the day it is the lawyers that win. Night freight turnarounds in the US where forklifts go through engines are are classic.
    I say the ALAEA have put their case most conservatively.

  • Roy Fordham


    Should these ‘Penny Pinchers’ be reminded of the age old adage.
    “Too Be Penny Wise Is To Be Pound Foolish”.
    I rest my case!!.

  • Freddie


    This was/is an accident waiting to happen. Obviously the Virgin accountants have struck again….watch this space for more accidents from an airline that publicly prides itself on its safe and timely operation. Don’t mention the continuing collapse of it’s booking system or the stress people go through by being on an aircraft operating almost of fuel. In that case Thank God for exceptional flight crew. .What will be next? Perhaps flying with another airline is the go.

  • Peter


    Of course this was an accident waiting to happen, unfortunately Manager bonus` through cutting costs come before passenger and aircraft safety, I remember through the seventies and eighties TAA, Ansett and Qantas used wing walkers and especially on the tighter Aprons.

  • Ben


    Doesn’t really matter who was pushing it, ALEA is seizing the opportunity to push their case. They’d have said not a peep if it was an engineer doing it!

    Point of the matter is that whomever was doing the pushback was NOT watching that corner on what is known as a tight push. In fact it’s one of the most difficult on the entire airport!

    Also unknown is if JQ indicated to ATC they were holding off the bay. D2 is only marked for the narrow bodies, if they held off they were likely outside of the parking clearance. This makes the ‘tight’ push impossible with a 737-800 (The largest aircraft permitted on E1).

    Also Purvinas’ comment re wing walkers is bunk. just because its in the maintenance manual does not mean its hidden from the rampies. NO domestic airline uses wing walkers in Australia that I’ve seen and this includes engineers who ‘know’ this. If airlines wanted to make it a requirement (which will probably happen now anyway), they will specify it in their ramp manuals. They don’t use engineers to wing walk! I believe UAL has this requirement as do several airports themselves overseas, VA for example have them in the US but not here, I believe that’s a LAX requirement.

    Everyone has an agenda, apply the usual grain of salt to any commentary!

  • Petra


    Who was accountable for change management?

  • Rodney Marinkovic


    Damage, price, and public image will put pressure on people in charge and individual involve in that incident.
    Procedures mast to be change and this non wonted situation sure will not be repeating any where in Australia.
    Big lesson to people involving in check/cross-check. Those in charge and direct involve, alike.
    Greeting to peoples involve to fixing problem for good. (Sorry for my poor English and spelling.)
    Rodney Marinkovic , AME (ret.) Sydney

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