Mode Aviation
Reference No. AR201600036
Date reported 29 March 2016
Concern title Trees which have been planted on the approach path of an airfield
Concern summary

The concern related to the trees which have been planted on the approach path for an airfield.

Industry / Operation affected Aviation: General aviation
Concern subject type Aviation: Airport

Reporter's concern

The reporter expressed a safety concern relating to trees, which have been planted on the approach to runway 18 at [location] airfield [a private airfield used by a general aviation aero club].

The reporter advised that a large number of trees have been planted along the final approach to runway 18, which are bordering the threshold. These trees are now causing a significant safety issue for aircraft approaching the runway as they are causing turbulence and severe windshear. The issue has also resulted in aircraft supporting emergency services operations being unable to take-off towards the north with a full load.

Reporter comment: During a recent flight, my aircraft was significantly affected by windshear during the approach in gusty south-easterly wind conditions. If a student or an inexperienced pilot had encountered these conditions, they could have lost control of the aircraft resulting is a serious accident.

Operator's response (Operator 1)

Please note that the 5 m trees on our boundary fence are 590 feet (180 m) from the threshold of the northern end of the North/South Runway, and given CASA’s requirement for landing aircraft to be at least 50 feet above ground level as they cross the threshold, we fail to understand how an approaching aircraft would be affected by windshear caused by our trees.

However, it is the practice of some of the resident pilots at [location] airfield on landing approach to deliberately ‘engage with the sphere of influence’ of our trees and cause an audible ‘whoosh’ and ‘visible movement’ of the trees as they cross just feet above, and touch down on the granitic sand emergency run-off some 150 metres from the bitumen threshold.

As to whether this action is to deliberately terrorise our horses or give themselves some sort of perverse ‘danger’ thrill, you are in a better position to judge than I am.

I have a library of videos that demonstrate the pilots engaging in what we consider ‘risk taking behaviour’ over our paddocks which have resulted in the ‘terrorising of horses’ and consequential serious injuries with at least three horses having to be euthanased.

Our tally of horses put through fences by low flying pilots using our paddocks as an extension of the airfield stands at 18. The last was an in-foal mare with a foal at foot just back from stud three days. She incurred a horrific leg wound that not only took months of intensive care, but put her unborn foal at risk through stress, and created a totally unnatural environment for her foal at foot with them both being confined to a stable then small yard for five months.

Regulator's response (Regulator 1)

While the trees at the end of runway 18/36 at [location] airfield may already, or at some time in the future, be limiting the effective operational length of the runway, regulation 92 of the Civil Aviation Regulations 1988 imposes an obligation on pilots. This includes the obligation not to land or take off from a place unless it is suitable for use as an aerodrome having regard to all the circumstances, including prevailing weather conditions. CASA wrote to of [location] Aero Club on 17 May 2016, highlighting this regulation.

Flight operations at the aerodrome are subject to CASA surveillance. It should also be noted that of [location] airfield is not a certified or registered aerodrome and therefore does not fall under the regulatory requirements of Part 139 of the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998.

Last update 12 July 2018