The final report into an incident at the Proserpine/Whitsunday Coast Airport at in February this year has been released by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB).
The report highlights communication issues and out-of-date operational documentation as being contributing factors to an incident where a plane was forced to land without any airport lighting.
On 25 February 2010, Piper PA-31-350 Chieftain, VH-BCQ, was operating a charter passenger flight for Central Airlines from Mackay Airport to Clermont Aerodrome. Due to weather, the aircraft was unable to land at Clermont or the planned alternate of Mackay. The flight diverted to the Proserpine/Whitsunday Coast Aerodrome.
The flight crew sought to have people on standby at the Airport, in case the pilot activated lighting could not be activated but this request was unsuccessful. On approach to Proserpine, the flight crew were unable to activate the aerodrome lighting. With critical fuel, and given weather considerations, the flight crew landed the aircraft without runway lighting at around 8pm local.
The ATSB investigation identified two minor safety issues: one relating to the practices used within the air traffic control group for the effective review and communication of notices to airmen, and the other the risk of out-of-date operational documentation.
The incorrect operational documentation has since been updated and the Whitsunday Regional Council, which manages the Proserpine/Whitsunday Coast Aerodrome, has instigated safety action relevant to their organisation.
The aircraft involved - PA-31-350 Cheiftan VH-BCQ - is pictured below at Clermont Aerdrome earlier this year.