Aviation safety investigations & reports

Breakdown of separation; 17 km west of Melbourne Airport

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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On 29 May 2006 at about 0805 Eastern Standard Time, a Boeing Company 737-7Q8 aircraft (737) passed within 400 ft vertically of an Aero Commander 680-FL (Aero Commander) aircraft. At that time there was less than the minimum 3 NM radar separation standard or the 1,000 ft vertical separation standard between the two aircraft.

The 737 departed Melbourne Airport tracking to the north and then to the north-east of Melbourne on a runway 27 DOSEL 3 standard instrument departure (SID). The Aero Commander became airborne off runway 35 at Essendon. The pilot of the Aero Commander was instructed to track overhead Melbourne Airport and climb to 3,000 ft. From overhead Melbourne Airport, the pilot was instructed to fly a heading of 310 degrees magnetic.

The pilot of the Aero Commander advised the departures controller that he had the 737 in sight. However, there was a breakdown of separation standards because the departures controller did not comply with the requirements of the Manual of Air Traffic Services (MATS) when he assigned separation responsibility to the pilot of the Aero Commander.

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[Download  PDF: 710KB]
General details
Date: 31 May 2006   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 0805    
Location   (show map): 17km W Melbourne, Aerodrome    
State: Victoria   Occurrence type: Loss of separation  
Release date: 13 March 2007   Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft 1 details

Aircraft 1 details
Aircraft manufacturer Aero Commander  
Aircraft model 680  
Aircraft registration VH-UJA  
Serial number 1521-100  
Type of operation Charter  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Essendon, Vic  
Destination Horsham, Vic  

Aircraft 2 details

Aircraft 2 details
Aircraft manufacturer The Boeing Company  
Aircraft model 737  
Aircraft registration VH-VBH  
Serial number 30641  
Type of operation Air Transport High Capacity  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Melbourne, Vic  
Destination Brisbane, Qld  
Last update 18 April 2018