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At 0856 Central Standard Time on 25 May 2016, a Piper PA-32, registered VH-NKA (NKA), departed Darwin Airport, Northern Territory (NT) for a business flight to Oenpelli Airport, NT. On board were a pilot under supervision, a supervising pilot and two passengers. The pilot under supervision was the pilot flying, with the supervising pilot acting as pilot monitoring, observing the flight and providing assistance.

At 0926, a Cessna 210, VH-SQT (SQT), departed Jabiru Airport, NT, for a scenic flight over Kakadu National Park and the East Alligator River. As SQT reached Cahill’s Crossing, the pilot broadcast on Jabiru-Oenpelli common traffic advisory frequency, advising that they would be tracking north via the East Alligator River towards Flying Fox Island and operating not above 800 ft.

At 0952, the pilot flying in NKA established the aircraft on a 5 NM final approach leg to the runway at Oenpelli Airport at an altitude of 1,000 ft and configured the aircraft for landing. At the same time, the pilot of SQT continued to follow the East Alligator River north making continuous shallow turns left and right to maximise their passenger’s view. As SQT began a right turn, the pilot observed the shadow of another aircraft (subsequently determined to be NKA) tracking towards the shadow of their own aircraft. The pilot of SQT then sighted NKA in close proximity and instinctively descended the aircraft to avoid a collision.

The pilot of SQT estimated that the aircraft passed at the same altitude and a distance less than 100 m at the closest point.

The pilots and passengers of both aircraft were not injured in the incident and the aircraft were not damaged.

This occurrence highlights the importance of effective communications. Where this effectiveness is compromised, pilot lookout becomes increasingly important.


Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 51

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General details
Date: 25 May 2016 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 09:52 CST  
Location   (show map):Oenpelli Airport, W 7 km Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Northern Territory Occurrence type: Near collision 
Release date: 08 September 2016 Occurrence class: Operational 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Serious Incident 
 Highest injury level: None 
Aircraft 1 details
Aircraft manufacturer: Piper Aircraft Corp 
Aircraft model: PA-32R-301 
Aircraft registration: VH-NKA 
Serial number: 3246164 
Type of operation: Private 
Sector: Piston 
Damage to aircraft: Nil 
Departure point:Darwin, NT
Destination:Oenpelli, NT
Aircraft 2 details
Aircraft manufacturer: Cessna Aircraft Company 
Aircraft model: 210M 
Aircraft registration: VH-SQT 
Serial number: 21062874 
Type of operation: Charter 
Sector: Piston 
Damage to aircraft: Nil 
Departure point:Jabiru, NT
Destination:Jabiru, NT
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Last update 18 April 2017