Last year, an AirAsia flight from Sydney due to arrive in Kuala Lumpur instead landed in Melbourne, authorities have announced today.
As reported in UK publication The Guardian, The flight was scheduled to arrive in Kuala Lumpur at 9pm on 10 March 2015 but the pilot entered the wrong coordinates into the plane’s navigation system, said a report published by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) today.
Due to technical difficulties, the captain was forced to swap duties with his first officer and he manually entered the plane’s current coordinates into the plane’s internal navigation system.
He should have entered the longitude as 151° 9.8’ east, or 15109.8 in the system, he incorrectly entered it as 15° 19.8’ east, or 01519.8. Melbourne airport is 722km southwest of Sydney; Kuala Lumpur is 6,611km northwest.
“This resulted in a positional error in excess of 11,000km, which adversely affected the aircraft’s navigation systems and some alerting systems,”
– The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB).
Due to various missed opportunities later to correct the error, the plane’s autopilot started to track in the wrong direction.
“Attempts to troubleshoot and rectify the problem resulted in further degradation of the navigation system, as well as to the aircraft’s flight guidance and flight control systems”, added the ATSB.
The pilot requested to return to Sydney but they required a ‘visual approach’, without the assistance of on board navigation systems, to land. Air traffic control in Sydney told them to instead head to Melbourne because of poor visibility. After three hours on the runway in Melbourne, the flight eventually arrived in KL six hours behind schedule.