Aviation safety investigations & reports

Separation issue involving Bell 206 Helicopter, VH-XJA and Airbus A320 VH-VGJ near Sunshine Coast Airport Qld on 3 July 2014

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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On 3 July 2014, at about 1940 Eastern Standard Time an instructor and student pilot of a Bell 206 helicopter, registered VH-XJA (XJA), approached Sunshine Coast Airport, Queensland to conduct night circuits. An Airbus A320 aircraft, registered VH-VGJ (VGJ), was inbound to Sunshine Coast from Melbourne, Victoria via the area navigation (RNAV) required navigation performance approach to runway 18. When about 30 NM from Sunshine Coast, the first officer of VGJ broadcast on the common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF), inbound and did not receive a response.

When about 10 NM from the runway, on a downwind leg and approaching a base turn for runway 18, the first officer broadcast on the CTAF that VGJ had left 3,800 ft and was conducting an instrument approach to runway 18, expecting to land at time 2001, and did not receive a reply.

The instructor of XJA heard the call from VGJ and assumed that the aircraft was then about 15 NM away. He expected the crew of VGJ would subsequently broadcast when 10 and 5 NM from the runway, and he elected to continue the circuit and monitor the CTAF for those calls.

The instructor of XJA broadcast when on a 3 NM final, but the crew of VGJ did not hear this call. About 70 seconds later, the first officer of VGJ broadcast on a 2 NM final. Hearing this call, the instructor of XJA turned and sighted the landing lights of VGJ close behind, diverged to the right and commenced a climb. Radar data indicated that the two aircraft passed at an altitude of about 200-300 ft with a lateral separation of about 370 m.

This incident highlights the importance of using both unalerted and alerted see-and-avoid principles and maintaining a vigilant lookout at all times.


Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 36

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 370KB]
Alternate: [Download  DOCX: 1.1MB]
General details
Date: 03 July 2014   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1959 EST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Sunshine Coast Airport, North 6 km    
State: Queensland   Occurrence type: Separation issue  
Release date: 03 December 2014   Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft 1 details

Aircraft 1 details
Aircraft manufacturer Bell Helicopter Co  
Aircraft model 206B  
Aircraft registration VH-XJA  
Serial number 3744  
Type of operation Flying Training  
Sector Helicopter  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Sunshine Coast, Qld  
Destination Sunshine Coast, Qld  

Aircraft 2 details

Aircraft 2 details
Aircraft manufacturer Airbus  
Aircraft model A320-232  
Aircraft registration VH-VGJ  
Serial number 4460  
Operator Jetstar Airways  
Type of operation Air Transport High Capacity  
Sector Jet  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Melbourne, Vic.  
Destination Sunshine Coast, Qld  
Last update 14 November 2018