Final report on 9M-MTK (Malaysia Airlines) – Airspeed indication failure on take-off involving Airbus A330, 9M-MTK Brisbane Airport, Queensland, 18 July 2018
On the night of 18 July 2018, a Malaysia Airlines Airbus A330, registered 9M-MTK, took off on a regular public transport flight from Brisbane, Queensland to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. There were 14 crew and 215 passengers on board. Covers had been left on the aircraft’s three pitot probes (airspeed sensors). The instruments showed a red speed flag in place of the airspeed indication from early in the take‑off, and unrealistically low airspeeds afterwards.
The flight crew did not respond to the speed flags until the aircraft’s speed was too high for a safe rejection of the take-off, and the take‑off was continued. The flight crew’s initial radio announcement of an urgency situation was not heard by the air traffic controller.
The flight crew climbed to 11,000 ft and circled while performing troubleshooting and other procedures, which led to the shutting down the aircraft’s air data systems. Doing so activated the back up speed scale (BUSS), a safety function that displayed safe flight envelope information to the flight crew in lieu of airspeed. Using this system, airspeed management procedures, and assistance from air traffic control, the flight crew conducted an approach and landing at Brisbane.
For technical reasons, the main landing gear doors did not retract and were slightly damaged on landing. Also, nose wheel steering was not available and the aircraft remained on the runway for a short period before being towed to the gate.
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