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Final Report

Summary

At 0856 Central Standard Time on 25 May 2016, a Piper PA-32, registered VH-NKA (NKA), departed Darwin Airport, Northern Territory (NT) for a business flight to Oenpelli Airport, NT. On board were a pilot under supervision, a supervising pilot and two passengers. The pilot under supervision was the pilot flying, with the supervising pilot acting as pilot monitoring, observing the flight and providing assistance.

At 0926, a Cessna 210, VH-SQT (SQT), departed Jabiru Airport, NT, for a scenic flight over Kakadu National Park and the East Alligator River. As SQT reached Cahill’s Crossing, the pilot broadcast on Jabiru-Oenpelli common traffic advisory frequency, advising that they would be tracking north via the East Alligator River towards Flying Fox Island and operating not above 800 ft.

At 0952, the pilot flying in NKA established the aircraft on a 5 NM final approach leg to the runway at Oenpelli Airport at an altitude of 1,000 ft and configured the aircraft for landing. At the same time, the pilot of SQT continued to follow the East Alligator River north making continuous shallow turns left and right to maximise their passenger’s view. As SQT began a right turn, the pilot observed the shadow of another aircraft (subsequently determined to be NKA) tracking towards the shadow of their own aircraft. The pilot of SQT then sighted NKA in close proximity and instinctively descended the aircraft to avoid a collision.

The pilot of SQT estimated that the aircraft passed at the same altitude and a distance less than 100 m at the closest point.

The pilots and passengers of both aircraft were not injured in the incident and the aircraft were not damaged.

This occurrence highlights the importance of effective communications. Where this effectiveness is compromised, pilot lookout becomes increasingly important.

 

Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 51

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