The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has handed down its final report on a runway incursion at Ballina Byron Gateway Airport.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has handed down its final report on a runway incursion at Ballina Byron Gateway Airport. ATSB

Plane tried to take off as helicopter approached runway

THE AUSTRALIAN Transport Safety Bureau has wrapped up its investigation after a light aircraft pilot began takeoff procedures as a helicopter approached at Ballina.

The pilot of a Cessna C208 aircraft, which had flown from Toowoomba, began taxiing at the Ballina Byron Gateway Airport on the morning of September 19 last year, as a Robinson R22 helicopter approached the same runway.

After last week handing down its final report into the incident, known as a runway incursion, the ATSC has urged pilots to ensure they use "see-and-avoid techniques" to avoid such conflicts at aerodromes that don't have traffic control towers.

An investigation into last year's conflict has highlighted "the importance of pilots maintaining a constant visual lookout to avoid traffic conflicts", the ATSB report said.

In a statement, the ATSB said investigators found the Cessna pilot "moved onto the runway before he had visually identified the helicopter" despite the use of a common radio frequency and a certified radio service that had been operating that morning.

ATSB executive director for transport safety Nat Nagy said traffic conflicts like this one were among the most common aviation incidents at aerodromes without towers.

"There are high workloads while flying in and around airports," Mr Nagy said.

"Things can change quickly, updates on what is happening can take time to reach a pilot, or they can be misheard or not heard at all.

"Maintaining constant visual awareness is a vital technique to ensure you are able to operate safely."

The Cessna pilot had flown from Toowoomba that morning and was destined for Nambucca Heads.



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