Aviation occurrence briefs

Flight crew incapacitation involving a Cessna 152, Jandakot Airport, WA, on 31 August 2019

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 31 August at about 1700 Western Standard Time, a Cessna 152 departed Jandakot Airport, Western Australia for a training flight with an instructor and a student pilot on board. The lesson was planned to conduct practice climbs in the training area. The student had a total of 2.4 hours flying experience but did not have experience flying the Cessna 152.

While returning to the aerodrome, the instructor experienced a medical episode due to an unknown and undiagnosed condition before subsequently losing consciousness. The student took over control of the aircraft and contacted Jandakot air traffic control (ATC) tower. After informing ATC of the situation, the student was instructed to conduct a few flyovers of the runway to gain situational awareness. The operator arranged for an instructor to assist the student from the tower. In addition, ATC ensured all other aircraft remained clear of the aerodrome while the student was able to practice approaches.

Once the student felt confident, ATC remained in contact to assist the student with landing the aircraft. Upon landing, emergency services vehicles attended the aircraft to assess the instructor.

At all times, communication between ATC and the student was concise, informative and positive.  

Safety message

This incident highlights the importance of how effective communication is crucial to aviation safety.

During the time the flying instructor was incapacitated, both ATC and the student pilot communicated clearly, calmly and proactively, resulting in a safe landing.

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: 31 August 2019   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1745 WST    
Location   (show map): Jandakot Airport    
State: Western Australia    
Release Date: 03 October 2019   Occurrence category: Serious Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Cessna Aircraft Company  
Aircraft model 152  
Type of operation Flying Training  
Sector Piston  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Jandakot Airport, Western Australia  
Last update 03 October 2019