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On 8 February 2014, at about 1500 Eastern Daylight-savings Time, the pilot of an AMS-Flight DG-303 glider, registered VH-DGA (DGA), broadcast on the local gliding club radio frequency that he would return to land at Bunyan aeroplane landing area (ALA), New South Wales, following a local flight of about 90 minutes duration. The glider was about 5 NM east of the aerodrome and on descent from 10,000 ft above mean sea level (AMSL).

About 10 minutes later, the pilot of a Piper PA-25, registered VH MLS (MLS), broadcast a lining up and rolling call and took off from runway 33 at Bunyan to launch a glider from overhead the aerodrome. At about 1515, when at about 4,000 ft AMSL, in anticipation of the glider pilot releasing the tow cable, the pilot of MLS turned to look behind the aircraft. He confirmed that the glider had released successfully and in accordance with standard operating procedures he then commenced a descending turn to the left.

The pilot of DGA sighted MLS release the glider and commence the turn. As the two aircraft were at about the same altitude and he then observed MLS with the wings level, he assumed the aircraft would then track straight ahead. He commenced a right turn to increase separation between them, and to track towards the joining point for a right downwind for runway 27. He reported that he assumed the pilot of MLS had sighted DGA at that time, and that he did not see MLS again until it was on downwind.

As the pilot of MLS rolled the aircraft’s wings level from the turn, he saw DGA as a white flash passing about 30 ft below him, and reported that he could see the rivets on the glider’s airbrakes. 

This incident highlights the importance of communication and the limitations of unalerted see-and-avoid principles.


 Aviation Short Investigation Bulletin - Issue 28

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General details
Date: 08 February 2014 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 1515 ESuT  
Location   (show map):overhead Bunyan (ALA) Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: New South Wales Occurrence type: Near collision 
Release date: 27 March 2014 Occurrence class: Airspace 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Serious Incident 
 Highest injury level: None 
Aircraft 1 details
Aircraft manufacturer: AMS Flight 
Aircraft model: DG-303 
Aircraft registration: VH-DGA 
Serial number: 3E503 A37 
Type of operation: Gliding 
Sector: Sport and recreational 
Damage to aircraft: Nil 
Departure point:Bunyan, NSW
Destination:Bunyan, NSW
Aircraft 2 details
Aircraft manufacturer: Piper Aircraft Corp 
Aircraft model: PA-25 
Aircraft registration: VH-MLS 
Serial number: 25-3809 
Type of operation: Sports Aviation 
Sector: Piston 
Damage to aircraft: Nil 
Departure point:Bunyan, NSW,
Destination:Bunyan, NSW
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Last update 25 February 2015