Final Report


At about 1113, Central Daylight-saving Time on the 6 November 2016, a Cessna 172S aircraft, registered VH-USL (USL), departed Parafield Airport, South Australia, for a local flight in the western training area. The pilot was the only person on board the private flight.

After passing the outbound reporting point, the pilot initiated a climb to 2,500 ft and navigated along the VFR route towards Dublin. In the cruise, the pilot attempted to get the autopilot to engage but it did not responded as they expected. The pilot reported that they made regular checks and would look from inside the cockpit to outside to check the aircraft was maintaining a direction to Dublin and that no other aircraft were in the vicinity.

During this time, a Cessna 206 (C206) aircraft departed Lower Light aircraft landing area (ALA) for parachute operations. They were on climb to flight level (FL) 120 where four parachutists planned to exit the aircraft overhead the Lower Light ALA. 

At about 1123, the pilot broadcast on the area frequency advising traffic in the Lower Light area that in about three minutes they would be at FL 120 and would conduct a parachute drop.

Shortly after the pilot of USL looked out and observed parachutes just below and to the left of the aircraft at a distance of about 200 m. After checking that it was all clear, the pilot turned the aircraft left to manoeuvre away from Lower Light ALA.

The pilot of USL disconnected the autopilot, navigated to Dublin, returned to Parafield via the inbound VFR route, and landed without further incident. The parachutists landed without further incident.

This incident highlights the importance to maintain situational awareness through active navigation and active listening to radio communications. 

Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 56

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