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On 31 May 2016, Virgin Australia Airlines flight VA1615, an Embraer ERJ 190, registered VH-ZPJ (ZPJ), departed Melbourne Airport on a scheduled passenger service to Mildura Airport, Victoria. On board the aircraft were two flight crew, three cabin crew and 81 passengers.

About 40 NM from Mildura and just prior to ZPJ leaving controlled airspace, air traffic control passed the flight crew traffic information about two aircraft operating above 10,000 ft to the west of Mildura Airport. The aircraft were a GippsAero GA10, registered VH-XGY, conducting spin testing supported by a Gippsland Aeronautics GA-8 ‘chase plane’, registered VH-XGA (XGA), from the same company.

ZPJ joined the Mildura Airport circuit for runway 09. On the base leg of the circuit, the flight crew on board ZPJ heard their traffic collision alert system announce a traffic advisory aural alert. They identified a conflict aircraft to their right and high against the skyline. The conflict aircraft was XGA conducting a straight-in approach to runway 09. Both aircraft conducted a go-around from their respective approaches to runway 09. During the go-around, the traffic collision alert system on ZPJ detected XGA pass about 200 ft above and 0.125 NM behind ZPJ, before XGA diverted onto a southerly track.

Despite compliance with the radio broadcast requirements a traffic conflict occurred in an environment with limited manoeuvring options for a high capacity public transport aircraft. This incident highlights the importance of an alerted search to the successful identification of potential conflict traffic.

Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 56

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General details
Date: 31 May 2016 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 11:30 EST  
Location   (show map):Mildura Airport Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Victoria Occurrence type: Separation issue 
Release date: 17 January 2017 Occurrence class: Operational 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Incident 
 Highest injury level: None 
Aircraft 1 details
Aircraft manufacturer: Gippsland Aeronautics Pty Ltd 
Aircraft model: GA-8 
Aircraft registration: VH-XGA 
Serial number: GA8-96-03 
Type of operation: Private 
Sector: Piston 
Damage to aircraft: Nil 
Departure point:Mildura, Vic.
Destination:Mildura, Vic.
Aircraft 2 details
Aircraft manufacturer: Embraer-Empresa Brasileira De Aeronautica 
Aircraft model: ERJ 190-100 IGW 
Aircraft registration: VH-ZPJ 
Serial number: 19000209 
Operator: Virgin Australia 
Type of operation: Air Transport High Capacity 
Sector: Jet 
Damage to aircraft: Nil 
Departure point:Melbourne, Vic.
Destination:Mildura, Vic.
Aircraft 3 details
Aircraft manufacturer: GippsAero 
Aircraft model: GA10 
Aircraft registration: VH-XGY 
Serial number: GA10XAA001 
Type of operation: Private 
Sector: Turboprop 
Damage to aircraft: Nil 
Departure point:Mildura Vic.
Destination:Mildura Vic.
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Last update 14 November 2018