Aviation safety investigations & reports

Aircraft separation issues involving an Ayres S2R, VH-WBK and an unmanned aerial vehicle, 37 km SSW of Horsham aerodrome, Vic on 12 September 2013

Investigation number:
AO-2013-167
Status: Completed
Investigation completed

Summary

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On 12 September 2013, at about 0930 Eastern Standard Time, the pilot of an Ayres S2R aircraft, registered VH-WBK (WBK), commenced aerial agricultural operations on a property about 37 km south-southwest of Horsham aerodrome, Victoria.

At about the same time, the operator of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), Sensefly eBee 178, arrived at the Echo mine site to conduct an aerial photography survey. He heard WBK operating about 1-1.5 km away and broadcast on the area frequency advising his intention to conduct unmanned aerial photography operations but did not receive a response. He asked the mine manager to contact the farmer and notify the pilot of WBK.

The UAV operator then commenced the flight at about 390 ft above ground level (AGL).

After completing the first load of fertilizer, the farmer informed the pilot of WBK there would be an ‘aircraft’ conducting aerial photography over the Echo mine site. The pilot assumed this would be a fixed-wing aircraft operating at or above 500 ft AGL, and intended to remain at or below 350 ft AGL to ensure separation.

At about 1000, the UAV operator heard WBK and observed the aircraft conduct a turn about 150 m north of the UAV, before it departed to the north. The operator immediately put the UAV into a holding pattern to maintain its current position. He estimated WBK was at about 100-150 ft AGL and came within about 100 m horizontally of the UAV. He attempted to contact the pilot of WBK on the radio but did not receive a response.

The pilot of WBK reported operating at about 50-100 ft AGL on a block just north of the mine site and did not see the UAV.

This incident highlights the challenges associated with having a diverse mix of aircraft operating in the same airspace and the need for all pilots and operators to remain vigilant and employ see-and-avoid principles.

 

Aviation Short Investigation Bulletin Issue - 27

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General details
Date: 14 September 2013   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 0930 EST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): 37 km SSW of Horsham aerodrome    
State: Victoria   Occurrence type: Separation issue  
Release date: 19 March 2014   Occurrence class: Airspace  
Report status: Final   Occurrence category: Serious Incident  
  Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft 1 details

Aircraft 1 details
Aircraft manufacturer Sensefly  
Aircraft model eBee  
Aircraft registration N/A  
Serial number 178  
Type of operation Aerial Work  
Sector Remotely piloted aircraft  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point near Horsham Vic.  
Destination near Horsham Vic.  

Aircraft 2 details

Aircraft 2 details
Aircraft manufacturer Ayres Corporation  
Aircraft model S2R  
Aircraft registration VH-WBK  
Serial number T15-021DC  
Type of operation Aerial Work  
Sector Turboprop  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point near Horsham Vic.  
Destination near Horsham Vic.  
Last update 14 November 2018