Qantas call sign error led to separation loss

A preliminary report by Australian air safety investigators has revealed that the call sign label for a QantasLink Boeing 717 cleared to descend into the path of Boeing 737 in Darwin was assigned to the wrong aircraft.

The report states that the call sign label for the Boeing 717 aircraft inbound to Darwin was assigned to another aircraft in the air traffic computer system and displayed on the approach controller’s radar display.

The other aircraft was overflying Darwin and not on the approach controller’s frequency, or under approach control at the time.  The actual radar return for the 717 was displayed on the controller’s display as an unlabelled track. Based on the displayed information, the 717 was cleared to descend through the level of a Boeing 737 that was outbound from Darwin.

Preliminary investigations indicate that the incorrect call sign label assignment was identified by the approach controller, who commenced a compromised separation recovery procedure that placed level restrictions on both aircraft.  The investigation is continuing.

Posted in Airlines, CAAs/ANSPs, News, Reports, Safety

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