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Summary

Summary

On 31 January 2005, a de-Havilland Canada Dash 8-202 (Dash 8) aircraft that was inbound to Williamtown Airport, NSW, on a scheduled passenger service from Brisbane, Queensland, passed 0.6 NM laterally and 300 ft vertically by the second of two formations of two McDonnell Douglas Corporation F/A-18 (Hornet) aircraft that were inbound to Williamtown Airport after a training exercise. As the Dash 8 turned onto the base leg, the second formation was about 6 NM north-west of Williamtown Airport, at 2,900 ft above mean sea level. The pilots of the Dash 8 descended in response to a traffic alert and collision avoidance system resolution advisory (RA) they received on that formation. The approach controller did not provide the required separation standard of 1,000 ft vertically or 3 NM laterally between the Dash 8 and the second formation. The tower controller had not established a visual separation standard between the aircraft at the time the Dash 8 pilots received the RA. There was an infringement of separation standards.

The investigation found that the factors that contributed to the occurrence included:

  • The approach controller did not assign an altitude to the second formation that provided a vertical separation standard between the second formation and the Dash 8
  • The tower supervisor advised the tower controller to cancel an instruction to the Dash 8 pilots to orbit on the downwind leg of the circuit at 2,500 ft, and to continue on the downwind leg of the circuit
  • The tower controller did not notify the approach controller that the Dash 8 was extending towards the lateral boundary of tower airspace
  • The pilots of a Westwind incorrectly notified the tower that their aircraft was 'minimum fuel' and did not join the circuit via the upwind leg as instructed by the tower controller.
 
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