Malaysia-bound Air Asia flight lands in Australia following ‘navigation error’

  • An Air Asia flight flew in the wrong direction after pilot entered the wrong coordinates
  • The Kuala Lumpur-bound flight took off from Sydney but landed in Melbourne
  • It was reportedly the first of several mistakes the flight crew committed on that day

An Air Asia flight flew in the wrong direction and ended up thousands of kilometers away from its destination because the pilot has entered the wrong coordinates, this was revealed in a recent report by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB).

The incident happened in March 2015 but it was only recently that the ATSB made the report public.

According to the ATSB, the Air Asia flight carrying 212 passengers took off on March 10, 2015 from Sydney and was bound for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

However, the pilot entered an erroneous longitude from a sign outside the cockpit window. Instead of entering 15109.8 east (151 degrees 9.8 minutes east), the report said, the pilot manually entered 01519.8 east (15 degrees 19.8 minutes east).

“This resulted in a positional error in excess of 11,000 kilometers (6,835 miles), which adversely affected the aircraft’s navigation systems and some alerting systems,” said the report, adding that it was the first of the several mistakes the flight crew have committed that day.

Reportedly, there were a number of opportunities for the crew to correct the errors, but they didn’t notice the problem until the aircraft became airborne and started flying in the wrong direction. Also, the crew supposedly ignored the message alerts and sounds suggesting the error before take-off.

When the pilots eventually noticed the mistake, they tried fixing the problem, but it was already too late.

“Attempts to troubleshoot and rectify the problem resulted in further degradation of the navigation system, as well as to the aircraft’s flight guidance and flight control system,” added the report.

The flight attempted to return to Sydney but weather conditions in the city prevented them to do so, and was eventually diverted to Melbourne where they stayed for three hours before taking off for Malaysia, their original destination.