Aviation safety investigations & reports

Near collision between a Piper PA-25, VH-MLS, and an AMS-Flight DG-303, VH-DGA, Bunyan (ALA), NSW on 8 February 2014

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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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   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): overhead Bunyan (ALA)    
State: New South Wales   Occurrence type: Near collision  
Release date: 27 March 2014   Occurrence category: Serious Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft 1 details

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 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  
Last update 14 November 2018