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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Qantas & Virgin in minimum separation breach

Qantas and Virgin have been involved in a vertical separation breach in the skies over Southern Queensland.

On the morning of July 29th the two 737-800s were in a holding pattern 91km south of Brisbane Airport when one of the jets breached the minimum vertical separation distance.  Qantas has claimed it was the Virgin aircraft that made the breech.

The ATSB are investigating the incident and will report back in around 12 months at which time CASA may take action if they wish.
____

I now want to take issue with the way this has been reported by the media and in particular the article by Robyn Ironside in the CourierMail

Firstly congratulations to the report for correctly identifying the aircraft involved as a 737-838 for Qantas and 737-8FE for Virgin, although these details could have come directly from the ATSB.

But sadly that's were the congrats end, as I take issue with several things.

The headline this story is running under Qantas-Virgin crash avoided by meters is clearly incorrect and sensationalises the incident, see the rationale below.
TWO commercial passenger jets came within metres of colliding over Coolangatta last month, putting 300 lives at risk.     
This lead paragraph of the article then builds on the sensationalism of the headline.  The jets were not meters from each other, yes they were below minimum safe vertical separation, but they would have still been over 200m apart vertically and there is no indication that lateral separation was breached. This paragraph attempts to make it sound like they were 2 meters apart, and disaster was imminent.

The article then concludes with reference to an incident involving Qantas and Jetstar aircraft near Hamilton Island back in 2004.  The reference then adds to the sensationalism by mentioning that passengers on that flight felt "frightened" after one had to bank sharply.  This has no relevance to the incident this article deals with, and adds nothing to it, other than to try and sensationalise it, once again trying to build on the notion that disaster was narrowly avoided,

Finally just a "cosmetic" complaint - the photo used with this article is of a Qantas Dash-8 and Virgin 737 not a Qantas 737 and Virgin 737.

Read the entire article HERE

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