Aviation safety investigations & reports

Landing on a closed runway involving PA28 VH-FEZ, Wangaratta Airport, Vic. on 12 April 2014

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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On 12 April 2014, a PA-28 aircraft registered VH-FEZ (FEZ) departed Mangalore airport, Victoria, on a dual navigation training exercise in central Victoria.

During the Shepparton to Tocumwal sector, the instructor requested that the student divert directly to Wangaratta Aerodrome.

At the time, a jet model aircraft group event was in progress at Wangaratta, and the aerodrome was closed. This closure had been advised by NOTAM. A white cross had been placed near the primary windsock, also indicating the closure.

Although the student had broadcast all mandatory CTAF calls, the model aircraft ground controller monitoring the UNICOM did not hear them. He did hear the engine sound as FEZ approached the circuit, and watched it continue to the east. He assumed it had departed the area. Shortly after, he was advised the aircraft was on final approach for runway 18. He quickly organised the clearing of the runway, and the movement of the 3 airborne model aircraft away from the area.

As the student had been having difficulty with directional control during landings, the instructor was focussed on this aspect during the circuit. Neither of them noticed the displayed white cross, or the activity on the ground.

The aircraft touched down, and as it became airborne again, the instructor noticed the barricades, took control of the aircraft, and departed the area.

The instructor had a full day scheduled. The student had been delayed in his flight plan preparation. By trying to remain punctual and efficient, the instructor had checked the weather and the student’s flight plan, but not the NOTAMS. He had also had disrutped sleep for the last few nights, due to a sick family member.

Before commencing a flight, the pilot in command should review all available information appropriate to the intended operation, including current weather reports and forecasts, and the condition and suitability of the selected landing area/s. This occurrence also highlights the need to check for any operational markers.


Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 33

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General details
Date: 12 April 2014   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1210 EST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Wangaratta Airport    
State: Victoria   Occurrence type: Depart/app/land wrong runway  
Release date: 06 August 2014   Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Piper Aircraft Corp  
Aircraft model PA-28-161  
Aircraft registration VH-FEZ  
Serial number 28-8016055  
Type of operation Flying Training  
Sector Piston  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Shepparton, Vic  
Destination Wangaratta, Vic  
Last update 14 November 2018