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The pilot in command of a Sikorsky (S-76C) helicopter reported that an aircraft had passed the helicopter at the same level, with 200-300 ft lateral separation, while operating in the vicinity of East Sale aerodrome. The aircraft was subsequently identified as a RAAF HS-748, callsign Hudson 505. At the time of the occurrence, East Sale airspace was uncontrolled, and Mandatory Broadcast Zone (MBZ) procedures were in place on frequency 118.3 MHz.

The S-76C had departed Longford Heliport, located approximately 7 NM south of East Sale. It was proceding to East Sale on climb to 2,500 ft above ground level (AGL) to conduct a practice instrument landing system (ILS) approach for runway 22. Another RAAF HS-748, callsign Hudson 24, was operating in the circuit at East Sale and preparing to conduct an ILS approach for runway 22.

As the S-76C approached East Sale, the crew of Hudson 24 broadcast that they were turning inbound on the ILS, and would be making a full stop landing. At about the same time, the crew of Hudson 505 broadcast that they were departing to the north-east of East Sale and passing 1,700 ft AGL. However, Hudson 505 was actually to the south-west of the aerodrome, and was turning to the left to track back over the East Sale non-directional beacon (NDB) prior to its departure to the north-east.

The S-76C crew, believing that Hudson 505 was north-east of East Sale and clear of their approach, continued inbound to overhead the East Sale NDB. When the S-76C was approximately 3 nm south of the East Sale NDB, maintaining 2,500 AGL, the crew observed Hudson 505 passing in front of the S-76C from left to right, at the same level and in close proximity. At the same time Melbourne Centre called Hudson 505 on frequency 124.0 MHz and advised the crew that unidentified traffic was half a mile to the south-west of the aircraft. The crew of Hudson 505 subsequently reported that they did not see the S-76C.


Local safety action

As a result of the occurrence, the Directorate of Flying Safety - Australian Defence Force, advised that all East Sale and Longford-based crews were briefed on the incident. The briefing drew attention to the following:

  1. terrain shielding exists between Longford and East Sale;
  2. a need for clarity in MBZ broadcasts. Crews should not assume that previously made transmissions were received and thus make the information in each transmission appropriate; and
  3. an enduring requirement for vigilance in lookout, even if an assessment of no conflict exists.

The operator of the S-76C issued instructions to its crews regarding procedures to be followed for instrument training flights at East Sale when the MBZ was active. These included specific procedures for:

  1. departing Longford for the runway 22 ILS approach at East Sale;
  2. departing Longford for the West Sale NDB approach;
  3. departing Longford for the East Sale and West Sale Global Positioning System non-precision approaches; and
  4. crew co-ordination duties between pilot flying and non-flying pilot.
General details
Date: 11 December 2000 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 1245 hours ESuT  
Location   (show map):East Sale, Aero. Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Victoria Occurrence type: Near collision 
Release date: 12 October 2001 Occurrence class: Airspace 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Incident 
 Highest injury level: None 
Aircraft 1 details
Aircraft manufacturer: Sikorsky Aircraft 
Aircraft model: S-76 
Aircraft registration: VH-EXU 
Serial number: 760432 
Type of operation: Business 
Sector: Helicopter 
Damage to aircraft: Nil 
Departure point:Longford, VIC
Departure time:1240 Hours ESuT
Destination:Longford, VIC
Aircraft 2 details
Aircraft manufacturer: British Aerospace PLC 
Aircraft model: 748 
Aircraft registration: HUDSON 505 
Type of operation: Military 
Damage to aircraft: Nil 
Departure point:East Sale, VIC
Destination:Nowra, NSW
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Last update 13 May 2014