ATSB Reports on Distracted Pilot

 - August 20, 2012, 4:35 PM
A Qantas A380 crew became distracted by a runway change, a cabin call and pressure to get airborne at LAX last October, causing a disruption to their pre-takeoff checks that left them with no takeoff-speed information on their flight displays, according to the ATSB.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has released its report on the Qantas A380 incident at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on October 8 last year. As the Airbus flight crew prepared for departure from LAX, the captain requested a runway change to meet the A380’s maximum gross weight takeoff guidelines. He became distracted by a call from the cabin and failed to enter the correct runway into the flight management system until the last moments before takeoff. Under pressure to depart, he did not use the correct input procedure and the aircraft’s takeoff speeds did not display on the flight instruments. The Australian investigation also found that the Qantas first officer canceled two “Check T.O. Data” messages, believing they were anomalies. As the aircraft approached 100 knots the flight crew noticed the displays did not show the data correctly, but they chose to continue the takeoff using numbers from their notes and managed to rotate at close to the speed the system should have displayed. Other primary flight display symbology also failed to work properly, so the crew climbed to 3,000 feet before reconfiguring the aircraft. The flight then proceeded normally to Melbourne. The ATSB said the captain and the first officer initially believed the data problem was caused by an auto-thrust failure. There were no other aircraft warnings to alert the crew that they were beginning the takeoff without the takeoff speeds in the aircraft’s navigation system. Airbus has since updated the A380’s warning systems to notify the pilots if takeoff begins without the takeoff speeds having been entered into the aircraft’s systems. Qantas also advised that it has updated its standard operating procedures to avoid any misinterpretation regarding required actions in the event of a runway change.