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Final Report

Summary

On 28 March 2016, at about 1306 Eastern Daylight-saving Time, a Schemp-Hirth Janus glider, registered VH-GWQ (GWQ) launched from Porepunkah Airfield, Victoria, for a pleasure flight. On board were two pilots; the pilot seated in the rear seat was the pilot in command for the flight. The glider tracked to a ridge about 3 km north-west of Mount Beauty Airport and climbed in tight orbits (‘thermalling’) in a clockwise direction.

At about 1335, the pilot of a Rolladen-Schneider LS3-A glider, registered VH-CQP (CQP), launched from Mount Beauty Airport, Victoria, for a pleasure flight. At about 1355, the glider was 3 to 4 km north-west of the airfield and descending through about 4,000 ft, when the pilot heard an alarm sounding, but did not identify it as issuing from the FLARM collision avoidance system fitted to the glider.

At that time, GWQ was thermalling and in a right bank at about 40–45°. The front seat pilot sighted a glider approaching from the opposite direction at about the same altitude. They assessed that the approaching glider was not going to manoeuvre to join the thermal or to avoid a collision, so took control of the glider and pushed the stick forwards to descend rapidly. The other glider (CQP) passed overhead.

The pilot of CQP sighted a glider pass below, and estimated there was less than 100 ft vertical separation.

Insufficient communication between pilots operating in the same area is the most common cause of safety incidents near non-controlled aerodromes. It is essential that when equipment is installed in an aircraft, pilots have an understanding of its operation and are familiar with its characteristics.

 

Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 51

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