A minute error in relevant data can cause major safety issues. This is what a report from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) shows. The incident occurred on August 1, 2014 when QANTAS Boeing 737, a flight between Sydney and Darwin faced a “tail strike” during takeoff. Incorrect weight distribution during cargo loading is one of the factors that can cause a tail-strike even before the plane starts on its course.
The ATSB investigation report published this month finds that the incident occurred after the captain and his co-pilot entered the wrong data into an iPad linked to the aircraft’s computer. They had indicated the plane’s takeoff weight as 66,400kg, whereas it was actually 76,400kg. As a result, when the aircraft was rotated, it over pitched and contacted the runway. An accidental mistake of “6” instead of a “7” had resulted in a tail strike. Tail strikes can be very dangerous. There have been numerous take-off accidents worldwide that were the results of simple data calculation or data entry error by the flight crew. In 1985, 520 people died when Japan Airlines’ Boeing 747 (flight 123) suffered explosive decompression due to a previous tail strike incident that hadn’t been correctly repaired.
Error-free data entry, especially in the aviation sector can help avoid serious safety issues. While typically associated with flight operations, human error has also recently become a major concern in maintenance practices and air traffic management. Data entry and electronic archiving of aircraft maintenance records are essential. A missing document can lead to the grounding of an aircraft, re-documenting expensive maintenance operations, unnecessarily prolonging the time required for aircraft marketing and trading, thereby creating underutilization and loss of revenue.
Inaccuracy occurs via actions involving – the wrong figure being used, data entered incorrectly, data not being updated, and data being excluded. For maintenance, repair and overhaul operations, data can be crucial for offering efficient service.
Certain best practices to follow include:
- Appropriate cross-checks for all manually calculated flight planning data
- Including regular audits of database accuracy in quality management programs
- Ensuring that the latest runway environmental data is used and that the load sheet values are correctly transcribed
- Implementation of risk control measures
Accurate data entry services are a key contributor to the success of the aviation sector’s quality management system (QMS). It is also crucial to help operators improve safety and efficiency in their daily operations.