Incursion removes required runway separation

Overview of Moorabbin Airport showing key locations

Key points

  • Pilot incorrectly believed they had been provided a landing clearance;
  • Runway incursions remain one of the most significant risks to safe aviation;
  • Pilots are strongly encouraged to identify potential conflicts or runway incursions that may develop during circuits early;
  • Flight training schools reinforce training regarding occupied runways and go‑arounds to students.

The student pilot of a Sling 2 aircraft which conducted a touch and go landing at Moorabbin Airport above a PA-28 aircraft that was lined up at the displaced threshold of the same runway incorrectly believed they had been provided a landing clearance, an ATSB investigation into the July 2020 incident has found.

The PA-28 was lined up on the displaced threshold for Moorabbin Airport’s runway 17 Left awaiting take-off clearance while the Sling 2 was conducting a circuit for a touch and go landing on the same runway. Although the Sling 2’s pilot saw the PA-28 lined-up, they contined their approach, believing that air traffic control had provided a clearance for a touch and go. The Sling subsequently passed above the PA-28 and conducted the touch and go.

The pilot of the Sling, not believing any incident had occurred, continued conducting circuits, while the instructor pilot in the PA-28 reported the incident after completing their training flight.

“The runway incursion by the Sling aircraft removed the required runway separation between their aircraft and the PA-28,” said ATSB Director Transport Safety Stuart Macleod.

“Runway incursions remain one of the most significant risks to safe aviation operations and a key global safety priority.”

The investigation found the student pilot of the Sling had sighted the PA-28 but decided to conduct the touch and go landing due to an incorrect belief that the controller had provided a landing clearance.

Further, the ATSB identified that the student pilot’s training had not been effective in conveying that a go‑around must be initiated if the runway is occupied.

Subsequent to the incident, the student’s flying training organisation introduced changes to its training program and updated student and instructor educational materials, procedural guidance and exam content.

“Pilots are strongly encouraged to identify potential conflicts or runway incursions that may develop during circuits early and to attend carefully to air traffic control communications,” said Mr Macleod.

“It is important that flight training schools reinforce training regarding occupied runways and go‑arounds to students.”

The investigation also found that the Moorabbin air traffic controller did not identify the developing conflict or recall the Sling passing above the PA-28 and conducting a touch and go landing.

“This investigation also serves to remind air traffic controllers of the importance of monitoring all aircraft and providing clear and unambiguous instructions to pilots to avoid runway incursions and related occurrences.”

You can find here the report: Runway incursion involving Sling 2, VH-ZSD Moorabbin Airport, Victoria, on 23 July 2020.

Last update 29 June 2021

/Public Release. This material comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here.