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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  
Location   (show map):near Gold Coast Airport Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Queensland Occurrence type: Near collision 
Release date: 27 August 2015 Occurrence class: Airspace 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Serious Incident 
 Highest injury level: None 
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 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
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Last update 17 October 2017