Data Error Causes Near Miss South-West Of Sydney

ATSB reports have concluded that a data error resulted in the near miss of a Boeing 737-8FE and and Airbus A330-342X south-west of Sydney on April 4.

The Boeing 737 was on descent to Sydney from Melbourne when the Airbus A330, departing for Hong Kong came within 1.9 nautical mile laterally and 600 feet vertically. 1.1 nautical miles and 400 feet short of the minimum separation standard.

The incident occurred only minutes after the controller came on duty. The report found that the controller was "distracted" while adjusting personal setting on the TAAATS display and an incorrect CFL (Cleared Flight Level) was assigned to the B737. According to the report "That assigned level was being used for separation by another air traffic controller."

The error was discovered prior to a conflict alert on the console being activated and the controller took action to avert any possible collision.

Bad weather had caused a complicated situation at the time, with forced changes in flight paths. This may have also contributed to the resulted break down in separation.

Media reports indicate that "adjusting personal settings on the ASD was not a part of official handover procedures". Implying that the distraction was a result of the controller acting irresponsibly.

In the controllers defence My Life And Air Traffic Control would like to point out to it's readers that "The investigation concluded that this data entry error occurred within two minutes of the air traffic controller assuming responsibility for the control position". Any Air Traffic Controllers reading will agree that responsibility is assumed on completion of the handover and not only that, the distraction caused by not adjusting personal settings on the console far outweighs that caused by doing so.

The handover and the distraction in this case are completely unrelated and this is purely a ploy to sell headlines.