Aviation occurrence briefs

Aircraft preparation incident involving Pilatus PC-12/47E, Darwin Airport, NT, on 28 March 2018

Status: Completed
Investigation completed


Occurrence Briefs are concise reports that detail the facts surrounding a transport safety occurrence, as received in the initial notification and any follow-up enquiries. They provide an opportunity to share safety messages in the absence of an investigation.

What happened

On 28 March 2018 at approximately 0700 Central Standard Time (CST), the pilot of a Pilatus PC-12/47E commenced his pre-flight inspection at Darwin Airport, Northern Territory. During the inspection, the pilot was interrupted on several occasions to attend to matters pertaining to the aircraft’s passengers and crew.

At approximately 0800 CST, the pilot had completed pre-flight checks and believed the aircraft was ready for flight. The aircraft taxied and took off from runway 29. During the initial climb, the pilot noted that the co-pilot’s airspeed indicator was not functioning correctly. The pilot then contacted Air Traffic Control (ATC) and requested a return to Darwin. While still in the circuit for runway 29, the pilot, thinking that the problem may be with the computer, requested clearance to taxi off the runway after landing and restart the aircraft. Clearance was granted and the landing, taxi and restart were conducted without incident. The pilot then requested a clearance from ATC for take-off, noting that if the issue with the airspeed indicator continued that the take-off would be aborted and the aircraft would return to the parking area. Clearance was granted and the aircraft taxied and commenced the take-off roll. During the roll, the pilot noted that the airspeed indicator was still not functioning correctly and subsequently aborted the take-off and returned the aircraft to the parking area.

Upon exiting the aircraft, the pilot noted that the cover was still on one of the aircraft’s pitot tubes. The pilot removed the cover and inspected the tube. Once he was satisfied that there was no damage, he restarted the aircraft and proceeded with the flight with no further issues.

Safety message

This incident highlights two key safety elements. Firstly, it highlights the importance of ensuring that all pre-flight checks and procedures are carried out systematically, efficiently and with minimal interruption. Secondly, its shows the necessity of assessing a situation quickly and being prepared to conduct a diversion or return if there is an issue with the aircraft.

About this report

Decisions regarding whether to conduct an investigation, and the scope of an investigation, are based on many factors, including the level of safety benefit likely to be obtained from an investigation. For this occurrence, no investigation has been conducted and the ATSB did not verify the accuracy of the information. A brief description has been written using information supplied in the notification and any follow-up information in order to produce a short summary report, and allow for greater industry awareness of potential safety issues and possible safety actions.


General details
Date: 28 March 2018   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 0800 CST    
Location   (show map): Darwin Airport    
State: Northern Territory    
Release Date: 07 September 2018   Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Pilatus Aircraft Ltd  
Aircraft model PC12/47E  
Type of operation Aerial Work  
Sector Piston  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Last update 12 December 2018