Singapore Airlines A380 Turned The Wrong Way After Sydney Go Around

A Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 turned the wrong way during a go-around at Sydney Airport last February. According to a report issued by the Australian Transport Safety Board (ATSB), two other aircraft lost separation. Thankfully ATC successfully managed the incident with all aircraft involved landing at their destination safely.

Singapore Airlines, airbus A380, Windshear
A Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 go-around caused a loss of separation in Sydney last February. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying

When an incident or accident happens, investigators will investigate the causes to stop such an occurrence from happening again depending on the severity. In the case of the two MAX crashes, investigators made recommendations that led to changes to the aircraft’s MCAS system.

What happened in Sydney?

According to the ATSB Report, as reported by The Aviation Herald, on February 9th, 2020, a Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 went around at Sydney Airport upon arrival. As it was descending on the final approach, the aircraft encountered windshear. In response, the flight crew decided to abandon the landing attempt.

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Having alerted Air Traffic Controllers to the go-around, the crew of SQ-231 was instructed to turn right to a heading of 270 degrees. The crew correctly read back the heading of 270 degrees but neglected to read back the direction. The pilot then initiated a turn to the left.

Singapore Airlines, airbus A380, Windshear
Thankfully all aircraft involved landed safely. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying

According to the ATSB’s report, the air traffic controller then issued instructions to maintain separation between the A380 and a de Havilland Dash-8. However, following the instructions, the Dash-8 lost separation with a Boeing 737 landing on the adjacent runway.

Why did it happen?

The ATSB report attributed the incident to the high workload being experienced by the Singapore Airlines crew during the go-around. The crew was reportedly expecting to turn left. However, the ATSB also said that the Air Traffic Controller missed an opportunity to correct the misheard instruction.

In response, Singapore Airlines issued a notice to its flight crews. In the message, the airline reportedly stressed strategies that pilots can employ to manage high workload situations. It also expressed the importance of complete and correct readbacks of ATC instructions.

What is windshear?

According to the FAA, in simple terms, windshear is a change in the wind speed and/or directions. It can occur in both a vertical and horizontal orientation. While it can occur at a range of altitudes, its impact is usually strongest for aircraft landing. This is as the aircraft will be configured to fly at a slower speed while also being far closer to the ground.

Singapore Airlines, airbus A380, Windshear
Low-level windshear can cause a loss of lift for arriving aircraft. Photo: Getty Images

In the worst cases, windshear could lead to a loss of lift at a low altitude, leading to an aircraft landing short. Thankfully, pilots are well equipped to deal with a variety of windshear situations. As was the case in this incident, the pilots chose to abandon the approach and have another go.

What do you make of the ATSB’s investigation into the Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 windshear incident? Let us know what you think and why in the comments below.

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