Aviation occurrence briefs

Lost/unsure of position involving Diamond DA 40, Lameroo, SA, on 9 May 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 9 May 2018, around 1150 Central Standard Time, the pilot of a Diamond DA 40 departed from Parafield South Australia (SA) on a solo-training visual flight rules (VFR) navigation exercise. The pilot planned to fly from South Para Reserve to Tori Hills, SA. As the flight progressed, the pilot lost directional awareness and subsequently conducted the 1 in 60-correction tracking [1] in the wrong direction taking the aircraft off course. The pilot then followed the operator’s lost procedure and contacted Air Traffic Control (ATC) for assistance. ATC directed the aircraft to Lameroo Aerodrome and from there the pilot was able to continue on the rest of the navigation without assistance.

Figure 1: Map of Area

Figure 1: Map of Area. Source: Airservices Australia

Source: Airservices Australia

Safety action

As a result of this occurrence, the operator has advised the ATSB that they have taken the following safety actions:

  • The trainee pilot conducted a dual sortie involving a more complex lost procedure.
  • The operator held discussions on the use of the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) as an aid in visual flying.

Safety message

This incident highlights the importance of requesting assistance from ATC when flight crew are unsure of the aircraft’s position. ATC are able to assist crew in locating positions using transponder codes, prominent landmarks and radio navigation. It is better to ask for assistance before fuel reserves are compromised.



  1. A basic rule of thumb, which states that if a pilot has travelled sixty miles then an error in track of one mile is approximately a 1° error in heading. Utilised by single pilots with many other tasks to perform, often in a basic aircraft without the aid of an autopilot.
General details
Date: 09 May 2018   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1148 CST    
Location   (show map): 34 km WSW of Lameroo    
State: South Australia    
Release Date: 13 November 2018   Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Diamond Aircraft Industries  
Aircraft model DA 40  
Type of operation Flying Training  
Sector Piston  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Parafield, SA  
Last update 09 October 2020