Jetstar Pilot Distracted by Mobile Phone Had to Abort Landing

(Photo: Jetstar)

A Jetstar pilot flying from Darwin, Australia, to Singapore had to quickly abort his landing because the appropriate gear for touching down hadn’t been deployed. This wasn’t because there was a malfunction though. According to reports, the pilot forgot to lower the gear because he was texting.

The Herald Sun reports the incident happened in May 2010 but the Australian Transport Safety Bureau more recently released a report reconstructing the events. Here’s how it went down — or didn’t for that matter:

The first officer, who was flying the plane at the time, repeatedly attempted to alert the distracted captain that he wanted to pull out of the landing.

However the captain failed to respond to the request for a missed approach altitude of 5000ft.

“The FO (first officer) recalled that, after still not getting a response from the captain, he looked over and, on seeing the captain preoccupied with his mobile phone, set the missed approach altitude himself,” the report stated.

The captain said he was in the process of unlocking and turning off his phone and did not hear the call for a go-around.

According to the report the pilots failed to adequately prepare for the landing in several ways and a lack of communication left them confused by the other’s actions.

“The simulator session also identified a period of about two minutes between about 2800ft and 1000ft in the descent where no control manipulations or systems activation was recorded,” the report said.

“In contrast, during that period, a number of tasks should have normally been completed in preparation for landing.”

With no wheels deployed for landing, The Age reported, at 720 feet an alarm began to sound in the cockpit. At 650 feet the pilot had deployed the gear but another “too low” warning sounded, which the The Age said indicated the gear was not fully extended or locked into place. At an altitude of 392 feet, the crew aborted the landing.

Check out this report from Mashable on the incident:

Jetstar’s Chief Pilot Captain Mark Rindfleish is reported as saying “human factors, like distraction,” is one of the reasons there are so many checklists the pilots must go through before operations such as landing.

“We take a very conservative approach to how far before touchdown an aircraft should be completely configured for landing,” Rindfleish said in a statement. “In the case of JQ57, pilot distraction meant all the landing checklist items weren’t completed before the aircraft passed an altitude of 500ft, at which point a go-around was required under our operating procedures.”

He said he considers the errors that occurred on JQ57 is an opportunity to learn and add further safeguards.