Australian airline probed over load data

SYDNEY • Australian carrier Jetstar has come under the scrutiny of safety regulators after two of its planes took off with more passengers than had been expected by the pilots.

The airline's procedures for calculating the weight of its aircraft are under review by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) as a result of the two incidents in October, the Sydney Morning Herald reported yesterday.

It said that on Oct 29, the pilot flying a Jetstar plane from Melbourne to Perth noticed the aircraft was nose-heavy as it was taking off and was forced to pull back on the controls, nearly to the limits, in order to raise the aircraft's nose.

Once the Airbus A321 was airborne, the pilots asked the cabin crew to confirm the passenger numbers and seating locations.

The updated information was entered into the computer and the pilots found that the aircraft was outside the loading limits for take-off and landing. Passengers were then moved to other seats throughout the cabin to return the aircraft to within the allowable weight and balance limits for the remainder of the flight and the landing.

Just 10 days earlier, another Airbus A320 flight from Brisbane to Melbourne took off with 16 more passengers than had been advised to the pilots, with the aircraft about 1,328kg heavier than the take-off weight used to calculate take-off and landing data for the flight. The landing data was recalculated prior to the descent in Melbourne.

Jetstar reported both incidents to the ATSB, which deemed them "serious", although there were no injuries in either case, and the flights landed safely and without incident.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has also begun its own investigation into the incidents.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 05, 2015, with the headline 'Australian airline probed over load data'. Print Edition | Subscribe