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Lake Macquarie pilots didn’t notice each other before near collision

written by Staff reporter | February 14, 2024

G1850 and VH-IOG’s ground tracks before the accident at Lake Macquarie Airport in May 2023. (Image: ATSB)

A gyroplane and an Extra EA 300L failed to see or hear each other before a near-collision at Lake Macquarie in NSW last May, the ATSB has found.

In its final report into the incident, the transport safety watchdog noted that neither the pilot of the Extra, VH-IOG, nor the Magni M16C Tandem Trainer gyroplane, G1850, heard each other’s broadcasts or saw the other aircraft until they were about 20 metres from colliding.

“When none of the pilots heard radio calls from the other aircraft, aircraft separation became reliant solely upon visual acquisition,” said ATSB director transport safety Stuart Macleod.

“As such, several factors likely reduced the ability of the pilots to then visually identify each other, including the small angular size of each aircraft, the complex background features with low relative contrast, and minimal relative movement between the aircraft.”

The gyroplane’s instructor and student pilot were conducting wheel balance exercises in a gyroplane on runway 07 at Lake Macquarie Airport on 12 May last year.


Following one of these exercises, the student made a radio broadcast while the instructor turned the gyroplane around, about halfway down the runway, and taxied back toward the western threshold, to repeat the exercise.

“Meanwhile, an Extra EA 300L aerobatic aircraft with a pilot and passenger on board had taxied from the apron toward the eastern end of the runway to conduct a commercial joy flight,” said Macleod.

“The Extra pilot made two radio broadcasts before entering the runway, and beginning to taxi down the runway toward the western end, for a planned take-off from runway 07.”

At about this time, the gyroplane commenced another exercise, and accelerated down runway 07, toward the taxiing Extra.

In reaction to seeing the other aircraft, the gyroplane’s instructor pilot took control and banked right to avoid collision.

Its rotor blades impacted the runway surface before the gyroplane veered off the runway and struck the ground, coming to rest on its side. The gyroplane was substantially damaged, the instructor was seriously injured, and the student pilot sustained minor injuries.

The ATSB also believes the Extra’s tailwheel configuration limited the pilot’s forward visibility while taxiing, while sun glare likely also affected the Extra pilot’s ability to detect the gyroplane.

Since the accident, Lake Macquarie Airport’s operator released a bulletin to all aircraft operators highlighting the importance of visual lookout in addition to radio discipline. The airport operator has also acquired radio recording equipment to allow communications to be periodically reviewed.

The operator of the Extra updated operational procedures, and the representative body for gyroplanes, the Australian Sport and Rotorcraft Association, have advised ATSB of its intent to replace the one-off human factors exam with a recurrent exam.

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