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The importance of maintaining situational awareness and the risks of pilot distraction are two of the major safety lessons featured in the latest edition of the ATSB's investigation bulletin, released today.

Situational awareness was a factor in air proximity events, breakdowns of separation, ground handling and wirestrikes. An example of a situational awareness issue occurred when a Pilatus PC-12/45 and Aeronautica MacchiAL60 passed within close proximity to each other while flying. This incident highlighted the need for aircrew to conduct diligent radio broadcasts and continual visual scanning to minimise the risk of collision.

The bulletin also identified how pilot distractions can affect the safety of aircraft operations. This was highlighted when the pilot of a Cessna 206 was distracted by other traffic operating in the area and consequently did not change the fuel tank selection. This resulted in an engine failure and subsequent forced landing.

Other safety lessons featured in the bulletin cover:

  • the importance of pilots using all available resources to confirm clearances from the air traffic control
  • the importance of not over-extending an aircraft glide after an engine failure
  • the difficulties associated with managing an in-flight engine failure at low altitude
  • the steps pilots can take to avoid wirestrikes, especially when flying in unfamiliar areas
  • the techniques pilots can use to maintain separation from other aircraft.

Released quarterly, the bulletin provides a summary of the less-complex factual investigation reports conducted by the ATSB. The results, based on information supplied by organisations or individuals involved in the occurrence, detail the facts behind the event, as well as any safety actions undertaken or identified. The bulletin also highlights important safety messages for the broader aviation community, drawing on earlier ATSB investigations and research.

A copy of the Level 5 factual investigations: 1 October 2010 to 31 December 2010 bulletin.

Media contact: 1800 020 616
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Last update 01 April 2011