Aviation safety investigations & reports

Near collision between a Beechcraft 76 aircraft, VH-ZUA and a Eurocopter AS350 helicopter, VH-SWX near the Gold Coast Airport, Qld on 4 January 2015

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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On 4 January 2015, the pilot of a Beechcraft 76 aircraft, registered VH-ZUA (ZUA), commenced a ferry flight from Archerfield to the Gold Coast, Queensland.

At about 1212, the pilot of an AS350 helicopter, registered VH-SWX (SWX) prepared to depart from Sea World, Queensland for a 15-minute local commercial scenic flight.

At about 1220, the pilot of ZUA requested and obtained a clearance from the Gold Coast tower controller to enter the control zone. Soon after the tower controller issued the pilot a Safety Alert, advising of traffic in his 10 o’clock position 2 NM and tracking west (toward ZUA) at an unverified level of 1,400 ft. The pilot acknowledged the Safety Alert, advising the tower controller that the traffic was in sight.

Noticing the short-term conflict alert on his air situation display, the Brisbane Centre controller twice attempted to make contact with ZUA, but there was no response. The controller then contacted the Gold Coast tower controller to confirm that a safety alert had been issued and was advised that it had, and that the situation was under control.

Soon after, having been distracted by entering and changing frequencies, the pilot of ZUA attempted to visually re-acquire SWX. He then realised that the helicopter was on a collision course with ZUA so conducted an evasive manoeuvre. He did not see SWX during this manoeuvre, so turned left and continued to the Gold Coast as cleared.

This incident highlights the importance of having the correct radio frequencies planned and correctly set up prior to and during flight and the need for vigilance when keeping conflicting traffic in sight. Pre-flight preparation is an essential part of safe flying operations and can prevent a loss of situational awareness and avoid the pilot’s attention being focused for long periods inside the cockpit.

  • CASA has developed the Look out! Situational awareness DVD for pilots to learn more about the safety-critical skills that makes up situational awareness. There is a strong emphasis on the need to prepare and plan for every flight. The DVD gives a definition of situational awareness of “what’s happened, what’s happening and what might happen”.

The CASA DVD is available from the CASA online store.


Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 42

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[Download  PDF: 377KB]

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General details
Date: 04 January 2015   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1221 EST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): near Gold Coast Airport    
State: Queensland   Occurrence type: Near collision  
Release date: 27 August 2015   Occurrence category: Serious Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft 1 details

Aircraft 1 details
Aircraft manufacturer Beech Aircraft Corp  
Aircraft model 76  
Aircraft registration VH-ZUA  
Serial number ME-351  
Type of operation Private  
Sector Piston  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Archerfield, Qld  
Destination Gold Coast, Qld  

Aircraft 2 details

Aircraft 2 details
Aircraft manufacturer Eurocopter  
Aircraft model AS.350B2  
Aircraft registration VH-SWX  
Serial number 9053  
Type of operation Charter  
Sector Helicopter  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Gold Coast, Qld  
Destination Gold Coast, Qld  
Last update 14 November 2018