On 4 March 2014, at about 0809 EST, a Piper Saratoga aircraft, registered VH-XKS (XKS) departed Mareeba Airport on a private flight to Normanton Airport, Queensland. The direct flight was planned under the visual flight rules and the pilot was the sole person on board.

The flight went normally until approaching Normanton. Approaching the 10 NM boundary, the pilot broadcast his intentions on the Normanton CTAF and realised the second radio, COMM 2 had failed.  He was unable to get COMM 1 operational.

Due to being low on fuel, he had little time to trouble shoot any further, so joined the circuit at Normanton for runway 14. He continued to make broadcasts on the radio in the hope that it may still be transmitting.

At the same time, a Beech 200 Kingair aircraft, registered VH-SBM (SBM) was completing a short leg of a charter flight from nearby Karumba. After obtaining the weather from the AWIS at Normanton, and broadcasting his intentions on the Normanton CTAF, he elected to conduct a straight in approach to runway 14.

As the Kingair descended through 800 ft, the pilot noticed movement in his left periphery below him. The Saratoga was partly obscured by SBM/s engine nacelles and the colour merged into the swollen river below. The two aircraft were on converging tracks and about 50 m apart. The pilot of the Kingair initiated a go-around and the pilot of the Saratoga, still unaware of the near collision landed on runway 14.

Pre-flight preparation is an essential part of safe flying operations. This incident highlights the importance of reviewing all available information appropriate to the intended operation, including having a thorough knowledge of aircraft systems.

Staying safe in the vicinity of non-towered aerodromes is available from the ATSB website.


Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 34