An AirAsia flight headed for Malaysia ended up landing in Melbourne, Australia after the pilot entered wrong longitudinal coordinates in the internal navigation system, according to an air safety investigation. A report on the investigation was released on Wednesday.
The aircraft Airbus A330 was scheduled to leave Sydney International airport at 11:55 am on 10 March, 2015 and was expected to arrive in Kuala Lumpur nine hours after departure. However, due to wrong navigational errors and bad weather, the flight ended up landing in Melbourne after 2pm.
While the distance from the Sydney airport to the Melbourne airport is 722km, Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia is at least 6,611km northwest of Sydney.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) on Wednesday published a report stating that the whole goof-up occurred when the faulty protections prompted the captain and first office to swap their pre-flight checks.
The captain and the first officer swapped their tasks as the captain's ear protection was not available. In a pre-flight check-up, the captain has to conduct an external inspection of the plane, while the first officer stays in the cockpit checking the alignment procedures.
The ATSB report also said that the captain manually copied the coordinates which led to a data entry error. "This resulted in a positional error in excess of 11,000km, which adversely affected the aircraft's navigation systems and some alerting systems," the report said.
Reports state that the plane was at the Melbourne airport for three hours after landing as the authorities tried to fix the problem before departing for Kuala Lumpur. The passengers finally arrived in Malaysia six hours behind schedule.