On 22 October 2013, at about 0850 Eastern Daylight-savings Time (EDT), a flight instructor and student pilot of a Schweizer 269C helicopter, registered VH-HYD (HYD), taxied to the southern helipad to conduct circuits at Moorabbin Airport, Victoria.
Runway 17 Left (17L) was the designated runway in use at the time. The helicopter circuit area was the ‘Eastern Grass’, defined as the area extending from 20 m east of, and parallel to, runway 17L to the perimeter fence.
At about 0914, the pilot of a Piper PA 31 aircraft, registered VH-IBI (IBI), requested a clearance for an IFR flight to Barnbougle Dunes, Tasmania and commenced taxiing for runway 17L. At about 0917, the pilot of an aircraft taxiing for circuits reported ready at the holding point for runway 17L.
To facilitate re-sequencing of the aircraft, the controller opted to change the departure runway for IBI from runway 17L to runway 13L. At this time, the helicopter, HYD, was on the runway 31 Right threshold at the far end of runway 13L, however the controller did not see the helicopter when conducting a scan of the runway prior to clearing IBI for take-off.
At about 0918, the controller cleared IBI for take-off from runway 13L. The pilot of IBI sighted the helicopter ahead, on the runway centreline, when about two-thirds of the way along the runway. As the aircraft had already exceeded the minimum rotate speed, the pilot continued the take-off, increased the aircraft’s angle of climb, and IBI passed about 100-200 ft above HYD.
As a result of this investigation, Airservices Australia has committed to review procedures at Moorabbin Airport.