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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  
Location   (show map):Barwon Heads/Geelong (ALA) Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Victoria Occurrence type: CFIT 
Release date: 05 September 2017 Occurrence class: Operational 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Serious Incident 
 Highest injury level: None 
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.
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Last update 11 July 2018