Two Qantas Aircraft Lose Separation At Sydney Airport

August 14, 2019


Two Qantas jets breached minimum separation distances at Sydney Airport last week. The two jets, one landing from Brisbane and one departing for Melbourne had a “loss of separation issue” which has sparked an Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) investigation.

What happened?

As reported in The Aviation Herald, the incident occurred on Monday, August 5, 2019. QF459, a Qantas A330-200 was departing Sydney bound for Melbourne and lined up at runway 34R. At the same time, a Qantas 737-800 operating flight QF545 from Brisbane to Sydney was on final approach to runway 34R.

After the preceding aircraft has left 34R, Sydney tower cleared QF459 for takeoff along its assigned departure route.

Observing a possible separation issue, Sydney tower told QF545 to go around, soon after instructing the aircraft to turn into an easterly heading, conflicting with the departure route of QF459, sparking a traffic avoidance collision alert.

QF459 continued to Melbourne. QF545 landed in Sydney ten minutes later.

The ATSB calls the incident “serious” and has opened an investigation which is due to be finalised in the second quarter of 2020.

The Australian is reporting that the A330 had visual contact with the 737-800 and neither aircraft were in imminent danger. Qantas is fully co-operating with the ATSB investigation and in a statement said their crews followed ATC instructions at all times.

Early indications suggest Sydney ATC should not have cleared the Melbourne bound QF459 for departure. 

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