Air safety watchdog savages ‘unsafe’ clearances
By Ruby Jones
Posted Tue Apr 23, 2013 1:42pm AEST
Photo: The pilot of an Australian Customs and Border Protection Dash 8 surveillance plane feared a possible collision with a Super Puma helicopter.
An aviation safety investigation has revealed that an unsafe clearance was given for a helicopter to take off at Darwin airport.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) reported that an Australian Customs and Border Protection Dash 8 surveillance plane was cleared for take-off at the airport in September last year.
Minutes later, a Super Puma helicopter doing flying training was cleared to use an adjacent runway.
The Dash 8 pilot heard the helicopter being cleared and delayed his departure because he thought there would be a risk of collision if he took off.
The ATSB report into the incident found an unsafe clearance had been issued to the helicopter, and that the Aerodrome Controller had failed to monitor both aircraft during the take-off, a critical phase of operation.
The investigation also found the Controller did not remember the incident.
The ATSB also reported that, in February last year, a single-engine, six-seater Cessna pilot was given permission to cross a runway at Darwin airport.
A few seconds later, a second aircraft, a twin-engine Cessna, was cleared for take-off on the same runway.
The second plane took off and flew over the first one, missing it by between 45 metres and 150 metres.
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