SYDNEY, AUSTRALIAAustralian flag carrier Qantas finds that pilots who have not flown for long periods due to the COVID-19 pandemic are making mistakes such as beginning take-off with the parking brake on, and misidentification of altitude as airspeed.

The problems are outlined in an internal Qantas memo acquired by The Sydney Morning Herald. The memo also stated that airlines around the world face similar problems when pilots return to full duty after being suspended for long periods.

“The two-year disruption from the pandemic had “created a situation where expert pilots have lost recency and experienced a subsequent reduction in cognitive capacity. Combined with reduced flying across the network, we recognize a flow-on effect for the flight crew’s focus and familiarity with the operation. Routine items that used to be completed with a minimum of effort now occupy more time and divert attention away from flying the aircraft," the memo cites.

It also says on-ground threats such as switches on the cockpit panels being in incorrect positions and several exterior inspection events.

Last June, pilots of a Qantas 787 were unable to retract the plane’s landing gear shortly after taking off from Sydney because two gear pins had not been removed before departure.

The memo also highlights incidents such as continued unstable approaches and loss of situational awareness.