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Final Report

Summary

On the morning of 3 July 2016, a Cessna 150M aircraft, registered VH-TDZ, and a Cessna 152 aircraft, registered VH-KTL, departed from the Exmouth aircraft landing area (ALA), Western Australia, to conduct whale shark spotting on the western side of the Exmouth peninsula.

At about 1145, the cloud base lowered and visibility reduced on the western side of the peninsula, and the pilots collectively agreed to return to Exmouth. However, the pilots were unable to navigate back to the Exmouth ALA in visual meteorological conditions and both conducted precautionary landings on a road on the west coast of the peninsula. The aircraft did not sustain any damage and the pilots were not injured.

As a result of this incident, both aircraft operators have amended their operations manuals to highlight the need for their pilots to make early decisions to return to the Exmouth ALA when weather conditions are deteriorating and to maintain an alternate plan.

This incident highlights the need for pilots to interpret the weather forecast within the context of their planned operation. There are several key factors for a VFR pilot to consider to avoid inadvertently entering IMC, which include:

  • thorough pre-flight planning
  • having alternate plans in the event of deteriorating weather
  • making timely decisions to turn back or divert.

 

Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin- Issue 52

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