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On 28 October 2012, at about 1410 Eastern Daylight-saving Time, an unmanned airship (callsign Airship 11) departed Keysborough, Victoria on a 30 minute test flight to assess the airship’s centre of gravity and manoeuvrability characteristics. The airship was controlled via a portable radio-controlled transmitter.

The crew planned to operate the flight below 200 ft above ground level and within 100-200 m of their location, with the airship remaining clear of the Moorabbin Class D control area.

Shortly after takeoff, the crew noticed that the airship’s centre of gravity was rearward, resulting in a nose-up attitude. About one minute later, when it was at about 130 ft, the pilot realised that he could not turn the airship to the left. The crew had lost control of the airship although the data link was still functioning.

Attempts to contact the Moorabbin control tower were unsuccessful. At about 1428, the air traffic controllers at Moorabbin observed the airship about 2 NM to the south-east at about 1,000 ft. At about 1500, the airship landed on the roof of a commercial building, sustaining minor damage.

As a result of this occurrence, the airship operator is taking the following safety actions:

  • source an airship from another manufacturer;
  • develop a safe method for tethered air testing;
  • develop a simulator for a small X-tail airship;
  • locate a suitable site for flight testing away from populated areas;
  • install the ground control station in the support vehicle;
  • develop a pre-flight checklist; and
  • develop a change management process.


Aviation Short Investigation Bulletin – Issue 16

Download Final Report
[ Download PDF: 413KB]
General details
Date: 28 October 2012 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 1410 ESuT  
Location   (show map):Moorabbin Airport Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Victoria Occurrence type: Control issues 
Release date: 21 March 2013 Occurrence class: Operational 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Incident 
 Highest injury level: None 
Aircraft details
Aircraft model: Advertising airship 
Serial number: Airship 11 
Type of operation: Flying Training 
Damage to aircraft: Nil 
Departure point:Keysborough, Vic
Destination:Keysborough, Vic
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Last update 18 April 2018