ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 737-838 (WL) VH-VZZ Sydney-Kingsford Smith International Airport, NSW (SYD)
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Status:Accident investigation report completed and information captured
Date:Saturday 14 October 2017
Type:Silhouette image of generic B738 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Boeing 737-838 (WL)
Registration: VH-VZZ
MSN: 39445/4010
First flight: 2012-04-14 (5 years 6 months)
Engines: 2 CFMI CFM56-7B26E
Crew:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 7
Passengers:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 174
Total:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 181
Aircraft damage: Minor
Aircraft fate: Repaired
Location:Sydney-Kingsford Smith International Airport, NSW (SYD) (   Australia)
Phase: Pushback / towing (PBT)
Nature:Domestic Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Sydney-Kingsford Smith International Airport, NSW (SYD/YSSY), Australia
Destination airport:Melbourne-Tullamarine Airport, VIC (MEL/YMML), Australia
At about 18:30 local time on 14 October 2017, the flight crew of a Qantas Boeing 737 boarded the aircraft at Sydney Airport, Australia. The aircraft was scheduled to operate a passenger flight to Melbourne, Victoria, with two flight crew, five cabin crew, and 174 passengers.
After boarding, the flight crew found the aircraft had no battery power, as the battery switch had inadvertently been left on. Consequently, another Boeing 737 aircraft, registered VH-VZZ (VZZ) was assigned for the flight. Catering had already been loaded on the originally assigned aircraft so a catering crew (driver and marshaller) were tasked to transfer the catering to VZZ.
At about 19:10, a dispatch engineer was assigned to the departure of VZZ, which was scheduled for 19:30.
At about 19:21, the engineer arrived at the aircraft, and received a handover from the other engineer who had been in attendance. The engineers discussed the aircraft status under the aerobridge as it had just started to rain. At this time, the catering vehicle (truck) was loading the forward galley through the right forward main entry door. The pushback vehicle's (tug) towbar was already connected to the aircraft.
At about 19:22, the catering crew completed loading the forward galley. They then moved the truck to the right rear main entry door and began loading the rear galley.
The engineer completed his walk around of VZZ and stood under the wing waiting for the catering crew to complete loading. He saw the catering crew close the main entry door and then visually checked that the aircraft door was closed.
The engineer then proceeded towards the front of the aircraft. He put on his headset, which was connected to an external jack point, and contacted the flight crew who confirmed they were ready to depart. As it was still raining, the engineer entered the right side of the tug and sat in its cabin. Meanwhile, the catering crew retracted the truck's loading platform and began lowering the truck's body.
At about 19:30, air traffic control cleared VZZ for pushback, and its captain informed the engineer accordingly. When the aerobridge had been retracted, the engineer leaned out of the tug cabin and completed a visual check of the left forward main entry door.
At 19:32:23, the catering truck body had finished lowering and the stabilisers began to raise. The crew exited the truck body. A few seconds later, the flight crew turned on the aircraft's anti-collision light.
At 19:32:43, the engineer looked left and right from the tug cabin to check for vehicles. He then gave the 'thumbs up' signal to the tug driver to commence pushback. When VZZ began reversing, the engineer approved the flight crew to start the right engine. The crew selected the engine start switch and the engine began rotating. The catering truck driver began reversing the truck at this time.
A few seconds later, the catering truck's marshaller identified that VZZ was moving and tried to alert the truck driver. At the same time, the engineer saw that the catering truck was not clear and 'yelled' at the tug driver to stop. The tug driver immediately applied the brakes. The tug stopped but the pins in the towbar sheared and it separated from VZZ.
The flight crew heard a loud 'bang' and then saw VZZ moving away from the tug. The catering truck was reversing but still 5-7 m behind the aircraft's right engine so the engineer asked the flight crew to apply the aircraft's brakes. The captain applied the brakes as firmly as possible. The aircraft slowed but continued rolling back 3-4 m.
At 19:32:53, the aircraft's right wing collided with the truck before it came to a stop. The flight crew then engaged the aircraft's park brake and turned the right engine switch to OFF and the engine wound down as fuel had not been introduced.
The aircraft was found to have substantial damage to its right outboard flaps, wing structure between the flaps and aileron, and the aileron.

Probable Cause:

- The dispatch engineer assumed that the catering truck was clear and did not visually confirm it was before he cleared VH-VZZ for pushback. In part, this assumption was based on an incorrect expectation of the time required for the truck to move clear.
- The engineer’s view of the truck from the pushback tug’s cabin was largely obstructed by the aircraft. The dark and rainy conditions also made it difficult to see the truck, and the engineer saw it too late to prevent the collision.

Accident investigation:

Investigating agency: ATSB (Australia)
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 1 year and 1 months
Accident number: AO-2017-099
Download report: Final report


Damaged on the ground


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This map shows the airport of departure and the intended destination of the flight. The line between the airports does not display the exact flight path.
Distance from Sydney-Kingsford Smith International Airport, NSW to Melbourne-Tullamarine Airport, VIC as the crow flies is 703 km (440 miles).
Accident location: Approximate; accuracy within a few kilometers.

This information is not presented as the Flight Safety Foundation or the Aviation Safety Network’s opinion as to the cause of the accident. It is preliminary and is based on the facts as they are known at this time.
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