Aviation safety investigations & reports

Proximity event between a Robinson R44, VH-JKF and a Cessna 172, VH-EVR, Essendon Airport, Vic, on 28 December 2014

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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On 28 December 2014, at about 1312 Eastern Daylight-saving Time, the pilot of a Robinson R44 helicopter, registered VH-JKF (JKF), departed for a scenic flight from Essendon Airport, Victoria. The helicopter travelled as the lead helicopter ‘in-company’ with another helicopter and the pilot of JKF was responsible for making all radio calls on behalf of both helicopters.

At about 1315, the student pilot and instructor of a Cessna 172 aircraft, registered VH-EVR (EVR), taxied for a training flight to Point Cook. At about 1323, EVR was cleared to track direct to Point Cook and subsequently cleared for take-off from runway 17. The pilot of JKF heard the communications with EVR while he was briefing passengers for landing and he did not hear the runway direction in the instructions issued to EVR. He had observed the wind over the city coming from a northerly direction, and assumed EVR would be taking off from runway 35.

At about 1325, the controller instructed JKF and company to track towards the runway 17 threshold and to report sighting the Cessna in the take-off roll. The pilot of JKF read back the instruction, but inadvertently tracked towards the 35 threshold. After reporting the Cessna in sight, JKF was directed to pass behind it.

About 16 seconds later, both helicopters were asked to confirm they had the aircraft in sight and the instructor of EVR observed JKF in close proximity. The pilot of JKF then realised that he was tracking to the incorrect threshold and slowed the helicopter to pass about 75 m behind and 100 ft below EVR.

This incident serves as a reminder to keep a good lookout at all times, including in Class C airspace.


Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 39

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 278KB]
General details
Date: 28 December 2014   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1325 ESuT   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Essendon Airport    
State: Victoria   Occurrence type: Operational non-compliance  
Release date: 26 February 2015   Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft 1 details

Aircraft 1 details
Aircraft manufacturer Robinson Helicopter Co  
Aircraft model R44 II  
Aircraft registration VH-JKF  
Serial number 10585  
Type of operation Charter  
Sector Helicopter  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Essendon, Vic.  
Destination Essendon, Vic.  

Aircraft 2 details

Aircraft 2 details
Aircraft manufacturer Cessna Aircraft Company  
Aircraft model 172R  
Aircraft registration VH-EVR  
Serial number 17280252  
Type of operation Flying Training  
Sector Piston  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Essendon, Vic.  
Last update 14 November 2018