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On the 6 November 2012 at about 1250 Eastern Standard Time, a Bombardier DHC-8-315, registered VH-SBG (SBG) was conducting a visual approach to Brisbane airport while at the same time a Eurocopter EC120B, registered VH-EHA (EHA) was departing Doomben racecourse, which was located near to the approach path of SBG. To facilitate the departure from Doomben, the pilot of EHA was cleared by the air traffic controller for take-off with a requirement to maintain visual separation with the approaching SBG. Despite this, SBG received a Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) alert.

As EHA became airborne and SBG continued to descend as part of its approach, the vertical and lateral distances between the two aircraft reduced. The result was that the flight crew of SBG received a TCAS Resolution Advisory (RA), which meant that they must take immediate action to resolve the potential conflict. A mandatory climb in response to the TCAS RA was actioned by the flight crew which then improperly positioned the aircraft for a continued approach to land. The flight crew elected to conduct a missed approach.

The TCAS RA and missed approach significantly increased the flight crew’s workload, increased the controller’s workload and was a precursor for later aircraft sequencing issues. To facilitate another circuit for SBG, and to assist with the sequencing of other aircraft arrivals, the controller decided to temporarily suspend departures from runway 01. The flight crew of SBG were re‑sequenced for another approach and landed on runway 01 without further incident. 

As a result of this occurrence, Airservices Australia has advised the ATSB that they are taking the following safety actions:

The Manual of Air Traffic Standards (MATS) was updated on 15 November 2012. The update requires air traffic controllers to provide additional consideration of performance characteristic prior to assigning visual separation to the pilot.

Specifically, MATS 10-50-221 (d) requires the controller to consider the possibility of a TCAS Resolution Advisory due to closer proximity of operation prior to assigning visual separation.


Aviation Short Investigation Bulletin – Issue 16

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General details
Date: 06 November 2012 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 1249 EST  
Location   (show map):near Brisbane Airport Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Queensland Occurrence type: ACAS warning 
Release date: 21 March 2013 Occurrence class: Airspace 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Incident 
 Highest injury level: None 
Aircraft 1 details
Aircraft manufacturer: Bombardier Inc 
Aircraft model: DHC-8 
Aircraft registration: VH-SBG 
Serial number: 575 
Operator: QantasLink 
Type of operation: Air Transport High Capacity 
Damage to aircraft: Nil 
Departure point:Gladstone, QLD
Destination:Brisbane, QLD
Aircraft 2 details
Aircraft manufacturer: Eurocopter 
Aircraft model: EC120 
Aircraft registration: VH-EHA 
Serial number: 1148 
Type of operation: Charter 
Sector: Helicopter 
Damage to aircraft: Nil 
Departure point:Doomben Racecourse, QLD
Destination:Archerfield, QLD
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Last update 16 April 2018