REX SF34 at Taree on Mar 23rd 2012, runway incursion

Last Update: June 25, 2012 / 12:32:25 GMT/Zulu time

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Incident Facts

Date of incident
Mar 23, 2012



Aircraft Registration

Aircraft Type
SAAB 340

ICAO Type Designator

The Australian Transportation Safety Board released their final report reporting that Taree was not controlled at the time of the incident. A Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF) was in use.

The private aircraft had broadcast its intention to takeoff from runway 22 prior to entering the runway and heard no other traffic on the frequency. After completing the pre-takeoff preparations the pilot announced "rolling runway 22 Taree" on CTAF and commenced takeoff.

When the aircraft accelerated through about 50 knots the passenger seated in the front seat pointed an aircraft out that was approaching the runway holding point. The pilot expected the aircraft to stop at the holding point and given they were nearly airborne continued takeoff. Still no CTAF broadcasts were heard in the cockpit.

Just when the aircraft accelerated through 65 knots and became airborne about 1/4 to 1/3 down the runway the pilot observed the other aircraft move past the hold short line and turn right onto runway 04. The pilot assessed it was the safest option to continue the takeoff and estimated they were passing directly over the other aircraft at about 300 feet.

A Regional Express Saab 340 registration VH-ZLH was departing Taree for Grafton and was taxiing towards runway 04. The first officer made a CTAF broadcast announcing their intentions to depart runway 04 and received response from ground personnel in line with company standard procedures. Not hearing any other traffic on CTAF the crew entered runway 04, when the captain noticed a shadow moving along his left, then both flight crew saw an aircraft climbing straight over them. Neither crew had seen the aircraft prior to that, both stated in post incident testimonies.

Following the incident both aircraft were able to talk to each other on CTAF.

The ATSB reported that the CTAF transmissions were not recorded, a neighbouring Port Macquaries CTAF, on the same/common frequency, was recorded and contained a number, but not all transmissions relevant to the incident. The recordings permitted to conclude that both aircrafts' radios were operating, however due to the limited number of transmissions recorded did not permit to take further conclusions. The ATSB commented that it did not become clear why the two aircraft did not hear the reported transmissions of each other.

As result of the investigation the ATSB released the following:


When operating outside controlled airspace, it is the pilotÂ’s responsibility to maintain separation with other aircraft both in the air and on the ground. For this, it is important that pilots utilise both alerted and un-alerted see-and-avoid principles.

In alerted see-and-avoid in uncontrolled airspace, a pilot is assisted in sighting conflicting traffic by broadcasts from other aircraft. Un-alerted see-and-avoid relies entirely on the ability of the pilot to sight other aircraft.

The physical limitations of the human eye are such that even the most careful visual search may not guarantee that traffic will be sighted due to:

a. a significant proportion of the view being masked by the blind spot in the eye, or
b. the eyes focusing at an inappropriate distance due to the effect of obstructions or to empty field myopia7.

The contrast between an aircraft and its background can be significantly reduced by atmospheric effects, even in conditions of good visibility.

An on-board collision avoidance system can provide a significant safety benefit outside controlled airspace and at uncontrolled aerodromes. TCAS should not be reserved for use airborne as the safety benefit on the ground could also pay dividends. The use of all available means to increase the visibility of an aircraft should also be made – the use of wig-wags included.

Pilots should never assume that not hearing other CTAF broadcasts means an absence of CTAF traffic. The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) have published a number of Civil Aviation Advisory Publications (CAAPs) dealing with operations at non-towered aerodromes and the importance of not relying solely on radio broadcasts for traffic advice.
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Incident Facts

Date of incident
Mar 23, 2012



Aircraft Registration

Aircraft Type
SAAB 340

ICAO Type Designator

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