Jetstar has been accused of having a lack of respect for safety and aviation regulations, after a series of “red flags” since October 2015.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) is investigating Jetstar for three incidents, the most recent being a “tail strike” accident at Melbourne Airport last week (May 11).
“During the take-off from runway 27, the aircraft’s [an Airbus A320] tail contacted the runway surface. After becoming airborne, the crew decided to return to Melbourne,” the ATSB wrote.
The pilot has been stood down during the ATSB investigation, which was expected to be completed by November 2016.
“Our engineers did an inspection and found that the underside of the aircraft’s tail had lightly scraped the runway on takeoff,” Jetstar engineering head David Lau said in a statement after the close call.
“There was no structural damage to the aircraft and it will be cleared to return to service on Friday.”
Following this incident, aviation expert Ben Sandilands wrote for Crikey that two other incidents and the tail strike scare “raised questions of safety culture in Jetstar that have not yet been answered by an ATSB inquiry, nor addressed by CASA (Civil Aviation Safety Authority)”.
“The safety culture of Jetstar ought to be in the dock of public opinion,” Sandilands wrote.
The two incidents, described here by the ATSB, involved to instances of dangerous weight distribution practice by Jetstar.
On October 29 2015, a Jetstar Airbus A321 flying from Melbourne to Perth was “nose-heavy” when taking off.
The flight crew re-entered the updated information into the flight management computer and identified that the aircraft was outside the aircraft’s loading limits for take-off and landing.
Passengers were relocated mid-flight to correct the imbalance to “allowable limits”.
Just 10 days earlier, a Jetstar Airbus A320 from Brisbane to Melbourne flew “with 16 more passengers than advised”.
“The aircraft was about 1328 kg heavier than the take-off weight used to calculate the take-off and landing data for the flight,” the ATSB wrote.
Sandilands also wrote of other concerning incidents involving Jetstar at Cairns, Singapore and Melbourne.
The New Daily contacted Jetstar for a response into the three incidents and the allegations made by Sandilands.
It’s full response was: “Safety is and will always be the first priority for everyone at Jetstar and we maintain the highest safety standards.
“These two ATSB investigations are unrelated and in each instance these were self reported. We take these matters very seriously.
“Immediately following the October loading events additional safety measures were put in place.
“The aircraft which lightly scraped the runway at Melbourne Airport last week did not have any structural damage and was cleared for service two days later.
“We are continuing to work with the ATSB on its enquiries.”
AirlineRatings.com rated Jetstar seven out of seven for safety. It was rated by the same website as in the top ten for safety amongst its low cost competitors around the globe.