Closed runway landing highlights importance of checking NOTAMS, aerodrome unserviceability markings

After changing their flight plan in-flight without reviewing NOTAMs, the pilot of a Citation business jet landed on a closed runway which did not have the required number of unserviceability cones and crosses in place, an Australian Transport Safety Bureau investigation finds.

During pre-flight planning on 21 October 2021, the pilot of a Cessna 510 Citation Mustang checked the NOTAMs for Temora Airport, a planned refuelling stop for flight from the Sunshine Coast to Essendon Airport with four passengers on board.

“When checking the NOTAMs for Temora, the pilot dismissed notices that were deemed irrelevant to the planned flight, which was intended to land on runway 05 due to forecast weather conditions,” ATSB Director Transport Safety Dr Stuart Godley said.

“This included dismissing a NOTAM detailing that runway 18 at Temora was closed due to works in progress.”

During cruise, the pilot reviewed more up-to-date weather information and made the decision to land on runway 18, rather than 05, due to changes in wind direction and apron accessibility.

“Not hearing any broadcasts on the aerodrome’s Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF), the pilot elected to land straight-in with a 5-mile final approach to save on time and fuel,” Dr Godley continued.

On touchdown, the pilot noticed cones across the runway a long distance ahead of the threshold, but judged there was sufficient distance to stop safely before reaching them, and so elected to continue with the landing.

The pilot reported not seeing any other markings to indicate the closure of the runway.

During its investigation, the ATSB found while white crosses had been placed on the runway, they were not in locations visible to aircraft conducting a straight-in approach on runway 18. Further, the size and number of unserviceability marking cones along the runway were insufficient to fulfil the requirements of the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations Part 139 Manual of Standards (MOS) for closed runways.

“An essential component of pre-flight planning is to check all NOTAMs relevant to the planned flight, and potential changes to the plan. This includes all NOTAMs regarding all aviation facilities that a pilot plans to use,” Dr Godley said.

“Additionally, aerodrome operators must ensure all markings displayed for works are in accordance with the current MOS for aerodromes to ensure clear communication of changes that may affect the safety of aircraft operations.”

Read the report AO-2021-045 Landing on closed runway involving Cessna 510, VH-MSU Temora Aerodrome, New South Wales, on 21 October 2021

Last update 18 May 2022

Final report

Landing on closed runway involving Cessna 510, VH-MSU Temora Aerodrome, New South Wales, on 21 October 2021