On 12 September 2013, at about 0956 Eastern Standard Time, a Cessna 185 aircraft, registered VH-OZA (OZA), departed Moruya, New South Wales for a parachute drop overhead the airport.

At about 1013, the crew of a Regional Express Saab 340B aircraft, registered VH-ZLJ (ZLJ), broadcast a call advising they were taxiing for runway 36 at Moruya, for a scheduled passenger service to Merimbula. In response, the pilot of OZA broadcast a call advising of his intention to conduct a parachute drop overhead.

At about 1018, the crew of ZLJ broadcast that they had entered, and were rolling on runway 36, and intended to conduct a right turn after take‑off, with a departure track of 178° (True).

Soon after, the parachute drop was completed. 

At about 1021, the crew of ZLJ asked the pilot of OZA to confirm that the drop had been completed. At that time, ZLJ was climbing through 3,500 ft and tracking to overhead the airport. The crew then questioned the altitude, time and position the parachutists had been dropped. The pilot of OZA advised that they had been dropped about 0.4 NM to the west of the airport, about 30 seconds previously.

The crew of ZLJ immediately turned the aircraft left. They continued to parallel their intended departure track overwater until about 10 NM to the south of the airport. The flight continued without further incident.

As a result of this occurrence, the operator of OZA has advised the ATSB that they have distributed a letter to all company pilots detailing the incident and highlighting the importance of not becoming complacent with procedures.

This incident highlights the impact complacency and time pressures can have on aircraft operations. It is important that pilots remain vigilant and alert, and be mindful that the even the most routine tasks must be conducted with care and concentration. Furthermore, when time pressures do occur, it is a useful strategy for pilots to take the time to re-evaluate the task and their priority.

Aviation Short Investigation Bulletin - Issue 24