An IT glitch caused a Tui flight to take off with incorrect weight calculations after female passengers using the title ‘Miss’ were classified as children, an investigation has found.
The flight, bound for the Spanish Island of Majorca, took off with 187 passengers from Birmingham Airport and was found to be more than 1,200kg heavier than calculated after departure.
A ‘serious incident’ was declared by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) following the miscalculation, which had been due to a computer systems coding error.
An investigation into the glitch found that ‘a simple flaw’ in the airline’s reservation system, which had been updated while its planes were grounded due to the coronavirus pandemic, led to 38 passengers on the flight being allocated a child’s ‘standard weight’ of 35kg as opposed to the correct figure of 69kg.
The Boeing 737 was more than 1,200kg heavier than calculated. Stock image
This caused the load sheet – produced for the captain to calculate what inputs are needed for take-off – to state that the Boeing 737 was more than 1,200kg lighter than it actually was.
It was programmed in an unnamed foreign country where the title ‘Miss’ is used for a child and ‘Ms’ for an adult female.
Despite the issue, the thrust used for the departure from Birmingham on July 21 last year was only ‘marginally less’ than it should have been, and the ‘safe operation of the aircraft was not compromised’, the AAIB said.
Birmingham Airport (stock image). The same fault caused two other Tui flights to take off from the UK with inaccurate load sheets later that day
The same fault caused two other Tui flights to take off from the UK with inaccurate load sheets later that day.
The system was adapted when the problem was first identified 11 days earlier, but this did not correct the weight entries for the July 21 flights.
The operator subsequently introduced manual checks to ensure adult females were referred to as Ms on relevant documentation.