Safety Alerts


Due to the large number of controlled airspace violations north east of Melbourne AsA have released the following bulletin. Airservices has other good advice on their Safety Bulletins website.

If we "speak their language" as much as possible when working with them (that is, talk to them using the right phraseology at the right time, sounding professional and not asking to "say again"), we are much more likely to be given the clearances we ask for — both now and in the future.


There are now new procedures for transiting through Avalon airspace.

An Avalon Approach frequency (133.55) was created on 18 November but this information has been omitted from ERSA and the new Terminal Chart so it will not be widely known by VFR pilots. There is an AIP SUP (H83/10) correcting this but the SUP has not been distributed and is available only on the Airservices website.

During tower hours, the Class D airspace extends up to 2500 FT with Class E above that up to 4500 FT.

You need a clearance to transit through the D and you should squawk 3000 (mode C of course).

No clearance (VFR) is required for transiting the E but you squawk 1200, monitor the Approach frequency and take appropriate action in the event of potential conflict.

Avalon Approach "owns" the D and E airspace and the Avalon Tower controls the aerodrome.

There is now an ATIS on 118.2, as well as on the VOR (116.1).
During non-towered hours the E airspace extends down to 700 FT and the remainder reverts to G. The 120.1 tower frequency becomes a CTAF with an AFRU.
There is a more light hearted treatment of this topic in the Carruthers Again! page.


Pilot should be aware that parachute operations are now resuming in the Brighton- Point Ormond area west of Moorabbin.

The descents occur from high in the C airspace and the jump aircraft broadcast on Melbourne Radar (135.7). There is currently no provision for the broadcasts on the MB tower frequency.

Since aircraft may be on any one of five frequencies in this area, there is a serious risk that traffic in this area will not be aware of each individual descent.



Image of PA-28 Fuel Tap

This engine fuel filter drain valve has remained in the open position after the filter has been drained. The problem has not been detected because the fuel is turned off. When the aircraft is started, fuel starts pouring out of the open valve and fuel exhaustion occurs early in the flight. In the two RVAC cases no engine abnormalities were noted prior to fuel exhaustion although this has been reported on some of the other accidents.

In the past, eight forced landings (including two at the RVAC), have been caused by the fuel filter drain valve remaining open after pre-flight fuel drain checks. There have also been many more “near misses” that have not been publicised.

In response to the accidents an Airworthiness Directive was introduced (AD/PA-28/81) which modified the drain tap so that it would not remain in the open position unless held there manually.

Unfortunately this AD has now been cancelled and the stage is set for us to learn the past lessons all over again.

It is therefore timely to remind all pilots and instructors that:

during pre-flight inspection, set the cockpit fuel selector to a tank
containing fuel before sampling fuel from the engine filter.

The above simple precaution ensures that, should the drain valve inadvertently remain open, fuel will continue to flow out of the valve and the problem will be immediately obvious.

RVAC Piper aircraft are modified to ensure that the drain valves can not remain locked open however this does not necessarily apply to on-line aircraft.

Cable operated fuel drain valves, as fitted to many Cessna models, can also cause a similar problem if the cable seizes due to corrosion or internal wear. The same precautions as above therefore apply.

Dick Gower
RVAC - Coldstream


Here is an extract from an ATSB report on some expensive go-rounds that could have been easily avoided.

On 17 May 2007, a de Havilland Dash 8, registered VH-TQP, and a Beechcraft Baron D55, registered VH-ILS, were operating in the vicinity of the Port Macquarie CTAF(R) Aerodrome. At the same time, the pilot of an Aeroprakt A22 Foxbat, registered 24-4422, was taxiing to conduct circuits from runway 21. The Foxbat was operating under the visual flight rules (VFR).
The pilot of the Baron initiated a go-round from short final approach to runway 03 as the Foxbat took off from runway 21. The crew of the Dash-8 subsequently conducted a go-round from final as the pilot of the Foxbat also turned onto final for runway 21 in front of the Dash-8.
A short time later, the pilot of the Foxbat landed without further incident. A club instructor inspected the Foxbat's radio after engine shutdown and found that the radio volume was at a low setting.

One of the functions of the TEST or SQUELCH control on a VHF COMM is to provide some noise to enable the correct volume to be set.

Unless somebody else happens to be talking when you first switch on, there is no way of telling how the volume control is set unless the radio’s SQUELCH or TEST function is used.

Many pilots set the volume somewhere in the middle and hope for the best. This can result either in something like the events above or alternatively the first transmission from another aircraft blows your ears off.

There are two types of squelch control: the adjustable type is usually designated SQUELCH and the non-adjustable type usually designated TEST.

The correct procedure is:

  • Turn radio ON
  • Un-squelch or test.
  • Set the volume control until the “frying” noise can be heard loudly.
  • Squelch or un-test.
  • Re-adjust the volume, if necessary, at the next transmission.

Dick Gower
August, 2008