On 19 March 2014, at about 0913 Western Standard Time (WST), a De Havilland DHC-8, registered VH-XFX, was on approach to Perth Airport from Kambalda, Western Australia. When about 23 km north-northeast of Perth, at about 3,800 ft above mean sea level (AMSL), the crew sighted a bright strobe light directly in front of the aircraft.
The light appeared to track towards the aircraft and the crew realised that the light was on an unknown object, possibly an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The pilot took evasive action turning towards the west to avoid a collision with the object. The object passed about 20 m horizontally and 100 ft vertically from the aircraft.
The pilot reported that the object was cylindrical in shape and grey in colour. It was at about 3,700 ft AMSL and in controlled airspace. The crew did not receive a traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS) alert. The airspace below 3,500 ft AMSL was military restricted airspace.
The ATSB was advised that the Australian Defence Force was not operating UAVs and was not aware of any UAV operations in the area at the time of the incident. The ATSB was not able to confirm the details of the object or identify any UAV operator in the area at that time.
UAVs are increasingly available to recreational operators and their operation outside of the regulations may pose a significant risk to aviation safety.