On 15 May 2015, at about 0600 Western Standard Time (WST), a Cessna 207 aircraft, registered VH‑WOX (WOX), departed Kununurra Airport, Western Australia, for a local scenic charter flight with a pilot and four passengers on board. A few minutes later, a Cessna 208B (Caravan) aircraft, registered VH-LNH (LNH), and operated by a different company, also departed Kununurra for a local scenic charter flight, with a pilot and 12 passengers on board.

On returning to Kununurra, WOX overflew the airfield at 2,000 ft then descended. At about 08:12, when about 5 NM from the airfield on an extended base leg, the pilot of WOX broadcast that they were tracking to join the circuit on base leg for runway 12. About 10 seconds later, LNH broadcast joining midfield crosswind. Eight seconds after the broadcast from LNH, the pilot of WOX broadcast that they had both an aircraft ahead on final approach, and LNH abeam WOX and turning onto downwind leg, in sight.

The pilot of LNH reported conducting an oval-shaped circuit pattern, flying a curved base leg with a constant left turn from the downwind leg to the final leg for runway 12. After commencing the turn, the pilot of LNH heard the broadcast from WOX stating they had LNH in sight. The pilot of LNH did not sight WOX and assumed the pilot would sequence to join the circuit behind LNH.

At about 0813, the pilot of WOX broadcast turning onto final for runway 12. LNH did not broadcast turning base and the pilot of WOX assumed that LNH was then still well behind WOX. During the continuous left turn from downwind and approaching the final leg, the pilot of LNH heard WOX broadcast turning final. A few seconds later, the pilot of LNH sighted WOX ahead, to the right, slightly above, and in close proximity to LNH. The pilot of LNH then continued a steeper left turn to increase separation with WOX. At that time, WOX was on late final. The pilot of WOX was not aware of the separation issue subsequently reported by LNH. Both aircraft landed safely without further incident.

This incident highlights the importance of broadcasting an aircraft’s position and of other pilots in the vicinity then ensuring they have the aircraft sighted following the broadcast.

Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 42

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