Lonely Planet Writer

Pilot twigs navigation error minutes after take off from Auckland

A Malaysian Airlines pilot realised eight minutes into a flight that he was headed in an incorrect direction.

Malaysia airlines. Image by Gordon Werner / CC BY 2.0
Malaysia airlines. Image by Gordon Werner / CC BY 2.0

He was speeding through the skies away from a route he felt should have been charted for his craft. And he was right. The flight route from Auckland in New Zealand to Kuala Lumpur on Christmas Day was in fact headed on a south course towards Melbourne in Australia, according to the New Zealand Herald. That routing prompted the pilot to query with air traffic controllers in Auckland as to why his plane wasn’t on a more straightforward route to Malaysia.

The Daily Telegraph reported that passengers on board were totally unaware of the flight going in the wrong direction but the pilot was later praised for spotting what might have been a problem. The New Zealand aviation expert, Peter Clark, said planes sometimes travel towards Australia if they want to avoid bad weather or headwinds. He commended the pilot for not just blindly flying off and ending up way off course.

The air navigation service provider, Airways, told the Herald it was carrying out an investigation into the incident but stressed that there wasn’t any safety concerns. He disclosed that while the flight plan filed earlier was going to Kuala Lumpur, it was on a slightly different route than the pilot expected.