Jetstar is under investigation following two incidents last month in which planes took off with more passengers than had been advised, resulting in a significantly higher take-off weight.
The error is considered serious by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB).
Jetstar says it has put procedures into place to ensure it can’t happen again.
The first incident happened on 19 October 2015 and involved a Jetstar A320 on a Brisbane-Melbourne flight. A head-count of those aboard revealed 16 more passengers than advised, meaning the plane was 1328 kilograms heavier than the take-off weight registered in the flight data.
In the second incident, on 29 October 2015, a Jetstar A321 aircraft due to fly between Melbourne and Perth was so nose-heavy on take-off, the pilot had to pull back on the controls almost to the limits to ensure the nose was pointing up. The reason, once again, was that the plane was outside the loading limits for take-off and landing. Passengers had to switch seats in order to balance the weight.
Both planes landed safely.
Seasoned aviation reporter Ben Sandilands has written on the issue in his Plane Talking blog on Crikey.com.au and has also spoken of it on radio station 2UE.
Sandilands said Jetstar’s actions in relation to the second incident “posed a major threat to the life of all on board the A321, which was configured with more than 215 seats”.
Sandilands wrote: “At the very least CASA [the Civil Aviation Safety Authority] should do what it did during the rehabilitation of Tiger Airways, and restrict the number of sectors [Jetstar] can fly for however many months it takes for the airline to demonstrate 100% compliance with the safety regulations it clearly held in such contempt in these incidents.”
“There is something seriously wrong with the safety culture of the Qantas low cost subsidiary,” Sandilands warned.
Jetstar responded that since the two incidents took place in October, it has “put additional measures in place to check our flights have been loaded correctly and that aircraft weight and balance is properly accounted for.
“We’ve had no flights operate with this type of error since we introduced these measures.”
CASA and the ATSB are each conducting separate investigations.
Written by Peter Needham