Aviation safety investigations & reports

Collision with vehicle during approach involving Piper PA-31 VH-JQS, Barwon Heads/Geelong (ALA), Victoria, on 29 March 2017

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed

Final Report

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On the morning of 29 March 2017, a Piper PA-31-350 aircraft, registered VH-JQS, was on a private flight from Moorabbin, Victoria to Barwon Heads/Geelong aeroplane landing area (Barwon Heads ALA),[1] Victoria. The pilot was the only person on board.

At about 1015 Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT), the aircraft was on approach to runway 36 at Barwon Heads ALA. As the aircraft approached runway 36, the pilot noticed the aircraft was lower than intended and decided to conduct a go-around.[2] As pilot applied full power, the left main landing gear impacted a truck on Barwon Heads Road. The pilot subsequently landed the aircraft without incident. The pilot was uninjured and the aircraft sustained minor damage

Pilots should not expect the same conditions and protections at an ALA as they would expect at a registered airport. When preparing to operate to ALAs, pilots should gain as much local knowledge about the landing site as possible.

This occurrence involved an experienced pilot with over 4,000 hours total flying time and over 1,000 hours as an instructor. Additionally, the pilot had flown into Barwon Heads ALA numerous times previously and was familiar with the displaced threshold and the proximity of the road. The ATSB’s aviation occurrence database shows that experience does not grant immunity from fatal accidents and in 2013 the ATSB published its sixth report of the avoidable accident series Experience won’t always save you.


Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 62


[1]     Aeroplane landing area: An area of ground suitable for the conduct of take-off and landing of aeroplanes.

[2]     Go-around: the procedure for discontinuing an approach to land, is a standard manoeuvre performed when a pilot is not completely satisfied that the requirements for a safe landing have been met. This involves the pilot discontinuing the approach to land and may involve gaining altitude before conducting another approach to land. 

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General details
Date: 29 March 2017   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 10:15 AEDT   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Barwon Heads/Geelong (ALA)    
State: Victoria   Occurrence type: CFIT  
Release date: 05 September 2017   Occurrence category: Serious Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Piper Aircraft Corp  
Aircraft model PA-31-350  
Aircraft registration VH-JQS  
Serial number 31-7552095  
Type of operation Aerial Work  
Sector Piston  
Damage to aircraft Minor  
Departure point Moorabbin, Vic.  
Destination Barwon Heads, Vic.  
Last update 14 November 2018