Qantas has launched an investigation into how one of its planes on a flight from Sydney to Lord Howe Island was overloaded with cargo, causing it to exceed its take-off weight.
A Dash-8 aircraft, flown by regional subsidiary QantasLink, was carrying about 32 passengers on flight QF2262 from Sydney to Lord Howe Island on Wednesday morning and was said to carry no more than about 20 kilograms of cargo.
However, the staff were shocked to find that a larger amount of cargo than expected had been loaded into the rear hold of the aircraft, causing it to exceed its maximum takeoff weight by about 160 kilograms as it exited Sydney airport.
Qantas confirmed it was investigating how cargo was “improperly loaded” on the Dash-8, which has since been released to return to service.
“The flight proceeded normally and landed safely and without incident,” it said, adding that the safety of the flight was not compromised.
Mick Quinn, former head of security at Emirates and ex-manager of air security research at Qantas, said overloading or incorrectly loading cargo in the wrong positions affects an aircraft’s center of gravity and increases the risk of flight control problems.
“While aircraft are designed to have safety margins that tolerate small deviations in weight and balance, any deviation can present a structural or aerodynamic risk,” he said.
Quinn, former deputy CEO of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), said runway length, temperature and wind direction were also factors contributing to critical calculations of speed and safe flights.