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On 1 September 2012, the flight instructor and student pilot of a Schweizer 269C-1 helicopter, registered VH-FTR (FTR), were conducting a training flight from Parafield, South Australia and return, via the ‘Dam Wall’ visual flight rules (VFR) approach point. When approaching the Dam Wall, the instructor was advised by air traffic control of an aircraft above and to the left at 2,500 ft inbound and two other aircraft 3 NM behind. The instructor became concerned with the aircraft behind as he could not sight them and instructed the student to descend to 1,400 ft. The helicopter’s traffic warning system was also showing an aircraft 1 NM behind, at the same altitude. Shortly after, the instructor and student observed a Cessna 172 aircraft, registered VH-VMM (VMM) pass overhead, with less than 50 ft vertical separation.

VFR approach points, which are prominent landmarks, assist pilots with visual navigation and provide an orderly path for aircraft entering the circuit. When operating in and around high traffic density areas such as VFR approach points, it is crucial that pilots maintain a heightened level of situation awareness.


Aviation Short Investigation Bulletin – Issue 16

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