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Pilots' typo errors leading cause of mishaps, incidents

January 25, 2011 - Melbourne

Safety investigators at Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) have said that errors in data calculation or entry were the leading causes of take-off accidents and incidents.

A report by the ATSB analysed 20 international and 11 Australian take-off accidents and incidents between 1989 and June 2009 involving incorrect flight data.

The analysis revealed that the most common contributing safety factor was crew error (39 per cent).

"There have been numerous take-off accidents worldwide that were the result of a simple data calculation or entry error by the flight crew," quoted the report as saying.

Other common mistakes involved pilots and crew entering the wrong takeoff speed, followed by the incorrect aircraft weight and wrong temperature.

Pilot and ground crew error, time pressure, fatigue, distraction, poor system design, bad procedures, a lack of reference material and poor training were cited as key factors leading to these types of mistakes.

"Despite advanced aircraft systems and robust operating procedures, accidents continue to occur during the take-off phase of flight," the report said.

"The takeoff is recognised as one of the most, if not the most, critical stage of flight, as there is limited time and options available to the flight crew for managing abnormal situation such as insufficient airspeed."

The ATSB said that while these incidents will keep occurring due to human nature, airlines need to take action wherever possible to avoid mistakes.


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