Effective see-and-avoid techniques needed at non-towered aerodromes

The ATSB is urging pilots to ensure they use effective see-and-avoid techniques to avoid traffic conflicts when flying at non-towered aerodromes.

Cessna C208 registered VH-SJJ

The ATSB’s investigation into a traffic conflict between a Robinson R22 and a Cessna C208 highlights the importance of pilots maintaining a constant visual lookout to avoid traffic conflicts.

On 19 September 2017, a Cessna C208 (VH-SJJ) and a Robinson R22 (VH-MFH) came into traffic conflict at the Ballina Bryon Gateway Airport. The Cessna entered and rolled on runway 06 while the Robinson was on its short final at 200 ft about two thirds along the same runway.

The ATSB found that despite the use of the common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF) and the certified air/ground radio service (CA/GRO) to advise of their positions by both pilots and instructor on board VH-MFH (MFH was on a training circuit) the pilot of VH-SJJ moved onto the runway before he had visually identified the helicopter.

Traffic conflicts are among the most common occurrences at non-towered aerodromes.

ATSB Executive Director, Transport Safety, Mr Nat Nagy says that traffic conflicts are among the most common occurrences at non-towered aerodromes.

“The proper use of the CTAF and the CA/GRO are important tools to build your situational and traffic awareness, but it is also important to maintain a constant visual lookout to confirm the information you are receiving.”

“There are high workloads while flying in and around airports. Things can change quickly, updates on what is happening can take time to reach a pilot, or they can be misheard or not heard at all.

“Maintaining constant visual awareness is a vital technique to ensure you are able to operate safely,” Mr Nagy said. 

Read the investigation report, AO-2017-097: Traffic conflict involving Cessna 208, VH-SJJ and Robinson R22, VH-MFH, Ballina Byron Gateway Airport, NSW, on 19 September 2017.

Additional reading: A pilot's guide to staying safe in the vicinity of non-controlled aerodromes.

Last update 16 November 2018