Aviation safety investigations & reports

Collision on runway between Extra EA-300 aeroplane, VH EXR and Guimbal Cabri G2 helicopter, VH-LTO Caloundra Airport, Queensland, on 18 September 2020

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed
Phase: Final report: Dissemination Read more information on this investigation phase


Download Final report
[Download  PDF: 906KB]

What happened

On 18 September 2020, an Extra EA-300 aeroplane, registered VH-EXR, was conducting circuits at Caloundra Airport, Queensland. A Guimbal Cabri G2 helicopter, registered VH-LTO, joined the circuit ahead of VH-EXR and conducted a stop-and-go on the active runway. VH-EXR landed on the runway and collided with the rear of the hovering helicopter during the landing roll, resulting is substantial damage to both aircraft but fortunately no injuries.

What the ATSB found

The ATSB found that the pilots of VH-EXR did not expect the helicopter to join the 1,000 ft circuit pattern and did not assimilate the helicopter pilot’s radio calls. As a result, they were unaware of the helicopter ahead of them in the circuit.

It was also identified that, on the final leg of the circuit, the pilots of VH-EXR were focused on an additional aircraft ahead of the helicopter. Although a visual inspection of the runway was carried out by the pilots prior to landing, the focus on the additional aircraft, in conjunction with the pilots of VH-EXR not being aware of the helicopter’s presence, resulted in them not sighting the helicopter and continuing the approach to the runway. The nose‑high attitude of EXR during the landing manoeuvre prevented visual identification of the hovering helicopter until immediately before the ground collision, leaving no time for avoiding action.

Safety message

This occurrence highlights the importance of having an awareness of the circuit procedures for differing types of aircraft. Multiple options are available to helicopter traffic at non-towered airports including the active 1,000 ft circuit pattern. A helicopter performing a stop-and-go will usually require significantly more time to clear the runway compared to an aeroplane performing a touch‑and‑go.

The accident also illustrates that, even for experienced pilots, visual identification of unknown traffic is difficult. The alerting provided by circuit‑related radio broadcasts greatly assists the process of sighting traffic that may be a collision risk. Safety around non-towered airports is one of the ATSB’s SafetyWatch priorities.

Download Final report
[Download  PDF: 906KB]

The investigation


The ATSB is investigating the runway collision of an Extra EA 300 aircraft registered VH-EXR and a Guimbal Cabri G2 helicopter registered VH-LTO on runway 12 at Caloundra Airport, Queensland, on 18 September 2020.

During a touch-and-go landing, the Extra EA 300 collided with the Guimbal Cabri G2 on the runway. Both aircraft sustained substantial damage. 

The evidence collection phase of the investigation will include interviewing the pilots and witnesses and reviewing any available recorded flight data.

A final report will be released at the conclusion of the investigation. Should a critical safety issue be identified during the course of the investigation, the ATSB will immediately notify relevant parties so appropriate safety action can be taken.

General details
Date: 18 September 2020   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 12:49 EST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Caloundra Airport   Investigation phase: Final report: Dissemination  
State: Queensland   Occurrence type: Terrain Collision  
Release date: 12 October 2021   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft 1 details

Aircraft 1 details
Aircraft manufacturer Extra-Flugzeugbau GmbH  
Aircraft model EA 300  
Aircraft registration VH-EXR  
Serial number 010  
Operator Sunshine Coast Flying School  
Type of operation Flying Training  
Sector Piston  
Damage to aircraft Substantial  
Departure point Caloundra, Queensland  
Destination Caloundra, Queensland  

Aircraft 2 details

Aircraft 2 details
Aircraft manufacturer Guimbal  
Aircraft model Guimbal Cabri G2  
Aircraft registration VH-LTO  
Serial number 1071  
Operator Aeropower  
Type of operation Flying Training  
Sector Helicopter  
Damage to aircraft Substantial  
Departure point Redcliffe Airport, Queensland  
Destination Redcliffe Airport, Queensland  
Last update 12 October 2021