On 18 April 2013, a Robinson R22 helicopter registered VH‑HLY (HLY), departed from Cloncurry tracking to the north. At the same time, a Bombardier DHC‑8 aircraft, registered VH‑QOB (QOB), was conducting a scheduled service from Townsville, Queensland to Cloncurry.

The pilot of HLY broadcast his intentions and about 2 minutes later, while taxiing towards the runway intersection he looked ahead and to the left along the main runway in the most common direction of arriving aircraft operations into Cloncurry.

The pilot in command (PIC) of QOB made inbound broadcasts at 30, 10 and 3 NM on the common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF) and conducted a straight-in approach to land on runway 30.

As the helicopter crossed the runway, the pilot realised that he had not heard a response from the aerodrome frequency response unit (AFRU) on the CTAF. Simultaneously, he heard a call from QOB, which was in the landing flare on short final for runway 30, stating that he should get off the runway.

The pilot of HLY then looked to his right and observed QOB on the runway. He realised he had been broadcasting on the ultra-high frequency (UHF) radio, although he could hear calls on the very high frequency (VHF) CTAF.

HLY departed across the runway at about 100 feet. The pilot of HLY estimated that, when QOB had touched down, the distance between the aircraft and HLY was about 1,000 m horizontally. The PIC of QOB estimated that the horizontal separation reduced to about 200 m.

This incident highlights the importance of conducting pre-flight checks thoroughly and maintaining vigilance particularly at non-controlled aerodromes.


Aviation Short investigation Bulletin Issue 21