Call to ban AirAsia X over safety concerns

AIRASIA X is facing its sixth investigation by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau in 18-months, after another incident in southeast Queensland.

Last Saturday, October 8, an AirAsia X A330 was diverted from the Gold Coast to Brisbane when its wing flaps failed to fully deploy.

As wing flaps work to slow down an aircraft on landing, it was feared the aircraft would overshoot the runway at Coolangatta and plough into traffic.

Instead flight D7-200 was diverted to Brisbane where fire trucks were placed on standby and other aircraft cleared from the runway ahead of the landing.

AirAsia X confirmed the diversion “due to a minor technical issue”.

The ATSB was yesterday awaiting further information from the airline and Airservices Australia before deciding whether to investigate.

The Malaysian based budget carrier is already the subject of four other active investigations and was forced to overhaul training procedures at the completion of another investigation into an incident in Sydney last year.

On March 10, 2015, an AirAsia X plane turned the wrong way on departure from Sydney Airport after incorrect coordinates were entered into the flight computer.

Flight crew were unable to correct the error and the A330 had to divert to Melbourne for landing with the assistance of Air Traffic Control.

Other incidents under investigation include:

* a “loss of separation” involving and AirAsia X A330 and a Jetstar plane over the Gold Coast in July;

* an engine shutdown en route from Sydney to Kuala Lumpur, resulting in a diversion to Melbourne on August 16;

* a taxiing incident in Melbourne last month, in which an AirAsia X aircraft began taxiing before the pushback tug and engine moved clear;

* a descent below minimum safe altitude at Gold Coast Airport on September 11.

Aviation expert, Neil Hansford said the problems were “a direct reflection of the quality of training, the quality of supervision and the quality of the checks being done”.

“All of those incidents are inexcusable. If it was one of the smaller Australian carriers, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority would ground them,” Mr Hansford said.

A CASA spokesman declined to discuss AirAsia X but indicated there was no extra attention being given to the budget airline.

Mr Hansford asked if they were waiting for a plane crash.

“CASA needs to say (to AirAsia X) “you lose your flight approval to come to Australia, until you raise standards”,” he said.

Despite its recent history, AirAsia X continues to grow in popularity with Australian travellers.

Figures from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics’ International Airline Activity report, show AirAsia X recorded 46 per cent growth in the year to July, to claim a 4.1 per cent share of all overseas travellers in and out of Australia.

An AirAsia Berhad spokesman said the airline would celebrate its tenth birthday next year, and was proud that its first route in 2007 was to the Gold Coast.

“The safety of all guests and our crew is our utmost priority at all times,” he said.

“AirAsia remains committed to ensuring its compliance to all safety and security regulations.”

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