On 7 October 2013, the pilot of a Fairchild SA227 aircraft, registered VH‑UZP (UZP), was preparing for a freight charter flight from Ballina/Byron Gateway Airport (Ballina) to Coffs Harbour, New South Wales.

At the same time, the flight instructor and pilot of a Bell 47G helicopter, registered VH‑UTF (UTF), were conducting circuit training at Ballina. After landing, the pilot broadcast on the common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF) that UTF was entering runway 06 to conduct left hand circuits. Shortly after, UTF departed and recommenced circuit training.

The pilot of UTF broadcast turning onto a left base for runway 06. Soon after, UTF landed about two-thirds of the way along the runway and came to a stop, facing east.  The instructor briefed the pilot prior to commencing a further circuit. 

The pilot of UZP broadcast a taxi call and commenced taxiing to runway 06. After hearing no further broadcasts from the pilot of UTF, the pilot of UZP broadcast on the CTAF that he was entering and backtracking runway 06. The pilot again received no response. He taxied UZP onto the runway and lined up on runway 06. The pilot broadcast a lining up and rolling call and commenced the take-off run. Just prior to rotation, he sighted UTF stopped on the runway, towards the departure end. He elected to continue the take-off and increased the climb angle to provide separation with UTF.

The instructor of UTF then attempted to contact UZP, with nil response received. He then realised that the radio volume had been turned down. UTF then vacated the runway.

Broadcasting and monitoring the CTAF and maintaining a good lookout are useful strategies to improve safety at non-towered aerodromes.


Aviation Short Investigation Bulletin - Issue 25