On 19 March 2013 at about 1016 Eastern Daylight-saving Time, the pilot of a Cessna 172S aircraft, registered VH‑EUH (EUH), made a 10 NM inbound broadcast on the Point Cook CTAF advising that he intended to track overhead Point Cook for Avalon at 2,500 ft. The pilot was also monitoring the Melbourne Centre frequency
At about the same time, a Piper PA‑44‑180 aircraft, registered VH‑TYS (TYS), became airborne at Point Cook, for an IFR training flight. The pilot under training was flying under the hood and the instructing pilot was making all radio calls to Melbourne Centre and broadcasts on the CTAF. The flight crew of TYS did not hear the 10 NM CTAF broadcast made by EUH.
As TYS tracked southbound about 3 NM east of Point Cook and passing about 2,000 ft on climb to 3,000 ft, the instructing pilot deselected the CTAF. The pilot flying then turned right to track in a northerly direction, in anticipation of an airways clearance to enter Melbourne controlled airspace.
At about the same time, as EUH passed abeam Point Cook to the north-west, the pilot broadcast that he was leaving 2,500 ft for 4,500 ft.
At 1022, as TYS was levelling off at 3,000 ft about 1 NM west of Point Cook and in uncontrolled airspace, the instructing pilot looked to the right and observed a C172 in their 2 o’clock position about 100 m away at the same level. He called ‘taking over’ and immediately pushed the control column forward to descend below the traffic. The C172 flew about 50 to 100 ft above and about 9 to 12 m behind TYS. The instructing pilot then climbed the aircraft to 3,000 ft and the flight continued with no further incident.
The pilot of EUH reported that he did not see TYS.
A pilot of another aircraft operating in the Point Cook circuit at the time reported hearing a broadcast by EUH on the CTAF.
The ATSB often receives reports from pilots that another aircraft is flying too close to them in uncontrolled airspace. Three quarters of these reports involve pilots flying within 10 NM of a non-towered aerodrome. As a result, the ATSB has highlighted safety around non-towered aerodromes as one of its SafetyWatch priorities.
The ATSB publication A pilot’s guide to staying safe in the vicinity of non-towered aerodromes, AR‑2008‑044(1), noted that over 200 occurrences between 2003 and 2008 were found where pilots flying within 10 NM of a non-towered aerodrome may not have been broadcasting or maintaining a continuous listening watch on the CTAF.
Broadcasting on and monitoring the CTAF are key ways for pilots to establish traffic awareness, in the vicinity of non-towered aerodromes. The ATSB’s Limitation of the see-and-avoid principle study has shown that the effectiveness of a search for other traffic is eight times greater under alerted see-and-avoid circumstances, when a radio is used effectively in combination with a visual lookout, than when just un-alerted, when no radio is used.