Aviation safety investigations & reports

Turbulence/windshear/microburst involving a American Blimp Corporation A-60+, VH-ZIC, Essendon, Aerodrome, VIC on 28 September 1998

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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The airship was tasked to fly at night over the city of Melbourne to broadcast a live link to a TV variety show. The pilot telephoned the Bureau of Meteorology aviation forecasters twice before 1830 for a briefing on weather conditions. He was advised by the forecasters that conditions would be windy. The area forecast issued at 1415 indicated that winds at 2,000 ft would be from the north at 35kt. Moderate turbulence was forecast at all levels with occasional severe turbulence in the lee of the ranges, situated to the north of Melbourne. At 1626 the Bureau issued an amended forecast for Essendon with winds from 350 degrees at 18 kt gusting to 35 kt with moderate turbulence below 5,000 ft. The airship departed Essendon at 2105 and was cleared to operate in the Albert Park Lake area at 1,000 ft. At 2125 the air traffic controller in the Essendon tower noticed that the airship was operating below 1,000 ft. At the same time the controller and police began to receive telephone calls from the public reporting that the airship was flying very low and erratically. The pilot advised ATC that he was operating at a lower level due to winds, otherwise operations were normal and no emergency conditions existed. When ATC observed a radar altitude of 400 ft AMSL an altitude alert was issued to the pilot. Concerned members of the public alerted the police and emergency services, both of which followed the airship during its return to Essendon. After arrival at Essendon the airship landed and was secured without further incident. Video recordings of the flight taken both on board and from the ground showed the airship pitching, rolling and yawing while being buffeted by the wind. The extent of the disruption to normal flight could not be accurately assessed because some of the images had been increased in speed when broadcast by television news outlets.
Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 15KB]
General details
Date: 28 September 1998   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 21:25 EST    
State: Victoria   Occurrence type: Turbulence/windshear/microburst  
Release date: 20 October 1998   Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Final    

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft model A-60+  
Aircraft registration VH-ZIC  
Sector Other  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Essendon Vic.  
Destination Essendon Vic.