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On 1 December 2010, at 1412 Eastern Daylight-saving Time, a breakdown of separation occurred between a Beech Aircraft Corporation Barron BE58 (BE58), registered VH-VFG, and a SAAB Aircraft Company S340B (S340), registered VH-SBA, near Taree Airport, New South Wales (NSW).

The BE58 was a private flight from Bankstown to Port Macquarie, NSW and the S340 was a scheduled passenger service from Taree to Sydney, NSW. On departure, the S340 was issued a clearance by air traffic control (ATC), with an altitude requirement intended to establish the S340 above the BE58 on a crossing track. When ATC reassessed the proximity of the aircraft and determined that the altitude requirement would not ensure separation, they issued the BE58 with a vectoring instruction.

The separation between the two aircraft reduced to below the required standards. Separation was re-established when the S340 reached 10,000 ft on climb.

This incident highlights the importance for air traffic controllers to continually monitor and reassess their separation plans and implement changes to assure that the required separation standards will be established and maintained. Furthermore, the provision of timely and appropriate traffic information to flight crew, by air traffic control, can significantly enhance pilots' situational awareness.

Airservices Australia (Airservices) has advised that they are conducting a systemic review of a number of Breakdown of Separation occurrences, with outcomes from that review to be considered in terms of further safety improvement. As a short term safety intervention, Airservices will be conducting an awareness program for Air Traffic Controllers following the publication of this report.

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General details
Date: 01 December 2010 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 1412 EDT  
Location   (show map):Taree Aerodrome, west 19 Km Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: New South Wales Occurrence type: Loss of separation 
Release date: 16 May 2011 Occurrence class: Airspace 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Incident 
 Highest injury level: None 
Aircraft 1 details
Aircraft manufacturer: Beech Aircraft Corp 
Aircraft model: 58 
Aircraft registration: VH-VFG 
Serial number: TH-415 
Type of operation: Private 
Damage to aircraft: Nil 
Departure point:Bankstown, NSW
Destination:Port Macquarie, NSW
Aircraft 2 details
Aircraft manufacturer: S.A.A.B. Aircraft Co 
Aircraft model: 340 
Aircraft registration: VH-SBA 
Serial number: 340B-311 
Type of operation: Air Transport Low Capacity 
Damage to aircraft: Nil 
Departure point:Taree, NSW
Destination:Sydney, NSW
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Last update 14 November 2018