Jetstar plane in terrifying near miss with private charter in mid-air

A Jetstar flight had a near miss with a private plane on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, it’s been revealed by aviation authorities.

The near miss, which occurred in November last year, was detailed in an Australian Transport Safety Bureau report published on Tuesday.

The Jetstar flight, an A320, was landing at Sunshine Coast Airport about 6.35am as an Aero Commander 500 piston twin light aircraft was taking off.

ATSB Executive Director Transport Safety Nat Nagy said pilots of both aircraft “did not hear important CTAF radio broadcasts made regarding each other’s position and intention”.

“These included the inbound broadcasts made by the A320 and the take-off broadcast made by the Aero Commander,” he said.

A Jetstar flight and another plane nearly collided on the Sunshine Coast late last year. Source: AAP

The CTAF, or common terminal advisory frequency, is what’s used when air traffic control isn’t operating and as this was at 6.35am the tower wasn’t staffed. Pilots use the radio frequency to broadcast to other aircraft what they’re doing.

Mr Nagy said it’s “likely” the pilot of the Aero Commander “had yet to turn the radio on at the time the A320 flight crew made their inbound radio broadcasts”.

Luckily, the two aircraft established direct communications and the Jetstar crew were able to inform the Aero Commander’s pilot at the last minute.

The pilot of the Aero Commander told the other flight it was airborne and the Jetstar plane was in sight. The Aero Commander turned right to avoid it.

The ATSB said the Aero Commander dodged the Jetstar flight by 1.2km horizontally and 80 metres vertically.

“When operating in uncontrolled airspace to and from non-towered aerodromes, it is important that pilots ensure that the location and intention of surrounding traffic is well understood and communicated prior to commencing take-off or landing,” Mr Nagy said.

The ATSB found the pilot of the Aero Commander did not confirm the location and intention of the inbound aircraft prior to commencing take-off, as it was assumed the inbound aircraft would use a different runway.

The Aero Commander continued on to Maryborough without incident.

A Jetstar spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia the airline is conducting its own investigation.

“In addition to the ATSB’s investigation we also conducted our own, which included a review and de-brief with the crew about their runway selection and interactions with the other aircraft in the airspace at the time,” they said.

“Our pilots undertake training that specifically includes procedures for the selection of approach runways and operating in airspace where ATC tower services are not provided.”

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