At 1453 Eastern Daylight-saving Time on 16 February 2013, a Beech B200C, registered VH-VAE (VAE), was about 15 NM from Wangaratta on descent when the pilot observed a white glider with red markings approaching at the same level. The glider passed the left side of the aircraft with separation reducing to about 70 m at the same altitude. The pilot of VAE did not have an opportunity to take evasive action, nor did he observe the glider take evasive action. The pilot of VAE did not hear any broadcasts from the glider pilot on the area very high frequency (VHF).
Attempts to identify the glider were unsuccessful.
Early in 2012 and following a submission from the operator of VAE, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) commenced a safety review into the level of risk from gliders in aircraft proximity (airprox) events in uncontrolled airspace. More recently, in response to discussions at a Regional Aviation Safety Forum and following advice from the ATSB of an increase in the number of airprox events across all categories of operations, CASA has established an Industry Airprox Working group to examine ways to reduce airprox events and enhance safety.
When operating outside controlled airspace, it is the pilot’s responsibility to maintain separation with other aircraft. For this, it is important that pilots utilise both alerted and un-alerted see-and-avoid principles. Un-alerted see-and-avoid relies entirely on the ability of the pilot to sight other aircraft. A traffic search in the absence of traffic information is less likely to be successful than a search where traffic information has been provided.