Aviation safety investigations & reports

VFR into IMC involving Piper PA-28, VH-BDB, 33 km W of Bankstown Airport, NSW, on 29 March 2016

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed

Final Report

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On 29 March 2016, the pilot of a Piper PA-28 aeroplane, registered VH-BDB, planned to conduct a private flight Hay to Bankstown, New South Wales (NSW), under the visual flight rules (VFR). As the weather forecast for Bankstown indicated conditions would be marginal for VFR flight, the pilot planned for an alternate landing at Bathurst, NSW.

The aircraft departed Hay, and tracked towards Glenbrook via Katoomba, from where the pilot then planned to track to Bankstown.

At about 1511, the pilot saw the cloud appear to be closing in on the planned track ahead. The pilot assessed that it would not be possible to continue on their current track and remain clear of cloud, so commenced a right turn. The aircraft then entered cloud. 

At about 1512, the pilot contacted Bankstown Tower air traffic control and declared a mayday. By the time the pilot had completed the transmission, the aircraft had flown clear of the cloud.

Air traffic control then provided assistance to the pilot and at about 1534, the pilot elected to divert to Bathurst. At about 1550, the pilot commenced descent into Bathurst, and the aircraft subsequently landed at Bathurst without further incident.

This incident highlights the benefits of seeking assistance from ATC when a pilot is in difficulty. Pilots are encouraged to make conservative decisions when considering how forecast weather may affect their flight. If poor weather is encountered en route, timely and conservative decision making may be critical to a safe outcome.


Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 49

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[Download  PDF: 145KB]
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General details
Date: 29 March 2016   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 15:12 ESuT   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): 33 km west Bankstown Airport    
State: New South Wales   Occurrence type: VFR into IMC  
Release date: 27 July 2016   Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Piper Aircraft Corp  
Aircraft model PA-28-181  
Aircraft registration VH-BDB  
Serial number 2843425  
Type of operation Private  
Sector Piston  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Hay, NSW  
Destination Bankstown, NSW  
Last update 14 November 2018