Fatigue a major factor in Queensland crash, says report

Plane wreckage off Horn Island, Queensland
Photo: Australian Transport Safety Bureau

An investigation done by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau on the fatal plane accident off north Queensland found fatigue to have played a major factor.

Brisbane Times reported that the pilot was the only person on board when the wreckage was found on the seabed about 26km off Horn Island eight months after the crash on February 24, 2011.

The investigation found several aspects of the flight which have increased the risk.

“The pilot had less than 4 hours sleep during the night before the flight, and the operator did not have any procedures or guidance in place to minimise the fatigue risk associated with early starts,” says the ATSB investigation report.

Because of this, ATSB issued a safety reminder on the importance of pilot having enough sleep before a flight and for operators to manage potential fatigue risks.

“The ATSB highlights the need for pilots to ensure they have had sufficient sleep prior to conducting a flight, and that operators have processes in place to manage the potential fatigue risks, including those associated with early starts.”

In May 2012, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) issued a notice of proposed rule-making relating to flight crew fatigue management.

“In the case of single pilot public transport operations, this included a proposal to restrict the duration of a flight duty period and the number of late night duty periods in certain circumstances. In addition, in July 2012 CASA issued a draft requirement for the installation of additional equipment in small aircraft involved in passenger transport operations such as a terrain awareness and warning system and weather radar equipment,” says the report.

The operator has ceased operations following the accident and therefore did not have the opportunity to make improvements in its flight safety procedures.


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