On 1 April 2014, a Piper PA-31 aircraft, registered VH-XGW (XGW), departed Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, on an aeromedical flight to Bankstown, New South Wales, under the instrument flight rules (IFR). The pilot conducted a WATLE Five Arrival to Bankstown.

At about 1940 Eastern Daylight-savings Time (EDT), a Piper PA-28 aircraft, registered VH-IBX (IBX) departed Bankstown on a training flight to Orange, New South Wales, under the night visual flight rules (NVFR), with a pilot-under-instruction and a flight instructor on board. IBX took off from runway 11 and climbed to 1,500 ft AMSL before departing the Bankstown zone at 3 NM, on climb to 2,300 ft AMSL. The pilot took up a heading to intercept the 275 radial from Sydney.

Sydney ATC advised the pilot of XGW that a VFR aircraft had departed Bankstown and was about 5 NM away and at 1,600 ft AMSL. The pilot responded that he had the aircraft in sight. At about 1944 the pilot of XGW contacted the Bankstown Tower controller who instructed the pilot to join final for a straight in approach to runway 11 and advised that departing traffic was a Cherokee in his ‘1 o’clock, becoming 12 o’clock’ about 2 NM away, and at 2,300 ft AMSL. The pilot of XGW replied that he had the traffic sighted.

When at 2,300 ft AMSL and about 6 NM from Bankstown, the instructor of IBX heard the controller give XGW the traffic and sighted XGW. The instructor of IBX then observed the landing light of XGW come on, immediately took control of IBX from the pilot-under-instruction, and conducted a climbing turn to the left. XGW passed about 200 ft below IBX.

This incident highlights the need for pilots operating under the visual flight rules (VFR) to maintain adequate separation from other aircraft.


Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 32