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All clubs and GFA members are urged to report all occurrences and incidents promptly, as and when they occur, using the GFA’s occurrence reporting portal at This is always best done while all details are fresh in everyone's mind.
You can read the full SOAR report at
Reports noted 'Under investigation' are based on preliminary information received and may contain errors. Any errors in this summary will be corrected when the final report has been completed

1-Nov-2020 VSA
Grob G 103c Twin III SL - Piper PA-25-150
Rope/Rings Airframe Strike

What Happened
As the tow plane was taking-up the slack in the rope for an aerotow launch, the glider pilot observed the tow rope pass over the starboard wing. The glider pilot released the rope, but the rings caught in the aileron gap and the glider was pulled to a position 60-70 degrees off the runway heading before the tug was brought to a stop. An airworthiness inspection determined that the damage to the glider to be superficial and the glider returned to service.

The incident occurred on the first flight of the day. The tow pilot taxied to the launch point on RWY 10 and parked adjacent to the runway leaving the tow rope across the runway. Subsequently, the glider was towed into the launch position a short distance downwind of the tug and ahead of the rope that was concealed in the grass. The glider pilot reported that during their pre-boarding checks she noticed the tow rope laterally about 2-3 meters and slightly behind the starboard wingtip. The pilot suspects she either considered the rope to be in an acceptable position or that there was more rope hidden in the grass that was not visible. The launch commenced shortly thereafter, and the tow pilot taxied to take up the slack. At this stage it was not apparent to either the glider pilot or ground crew that the tow rope was not properly positioned. As the slack was taken up the tow rope was drawn over the starboard wing which has downward curving wingtips. The wingman, who was holding the port wing, noticed the tow rope lying over the starboard wing and alerted the glider pilot. The glider pilot released the tow and radioed the tow pilot to stop. The tow pilot began to take-off and the glider pilot made another radio call to stop the launch. The tow pilot reported that he misinterpreted the first radio call as a signal to take off, as he had hesitated for some time while attempting to get a clear view of the wingman. The tow pilot applied power but a few seconds later he heard the glider pilot radio a second time to stop and brought the tow plane to a halt. However, before the tow plane could be stopped the tow rings caught in the starboard aileron slot and the glider was rotated about 60-70 degrees from runway heading.
Action Taken
The CFI interviewed the glider pilot, tow pilot and wingman on site immediately following the incident. The glider was inspected by the Technical Officer who determined the damage determined to be superficial and cleared the glider for flight. The club has since carried out the following actions to avoid a recurrence of this type of incident.
All pilots were reminded of the need to ensure that the tow rope is properly laid out forward of the glider before connecting the launch.
Tow pilots were reminded that radio calls should be regarded as unreliable and launches only commence based on standard ground crew signals.
All members were reminded of the importance of correct launch procedures and signals and particularly the procedure for stopping a launch.
Additional emphasis has been placed on the training of new members in ground crew duties.
A forward signaller is now employed for normal operations.

14-Nov-2020 NSWGA
Other Powerplant/Propulsion Issues
SZD-50-3 "Puchacz"- Piper PA-25
Under investigation. During the aerotow launch the tow plane accelerated slower than normal and once airborne the rate of climb was low.  At about 200' AGL the glider pilots noticed black smoke from the tow plane's exhaust, and at 250ft AGL the tow pilot signalled for the glider pilots to release. The glider pilots immediately released from tow and conducted and downwind landing on the reciprocal runway. The tow plane safely landed shortly afterwards. The tow pilot identified that he had conducted the launch with carburetor heat turned on. When flying in conditions that appear conducive to the development of carburettor ice, carburettor heat will be applied by the pilot at regular intervals as both a preventative measure against the formation of ice and a method to test whether or not carburettor ice is developing. If a normal drop in RPM or manifold pressure accompanies the application of carburettor heat, it is reasonably certain that ice is not forming in the carburettor. However, the use of carburettor heat will decrease engine performance by up to 15%, so pilots should beware of flying around with it continuously selected as the aircraft will use more fuel than planned for and this practice could potentially decrease the life of the engine due to an inappropriate mixture setting.

18-Nov-2020 VSA
Hard landing
SZD-50-3 "Puchacz"
Under investigation. During a flight review of a solo pilot, the instructor was too late to take control and prevent a heavy landing. The instructor conducted an inspection of the tail for damage and found none. The glider was then re-launched by aerotow, and during the ground roll the pilot under check dropped the right wing and took a while to get the wings level. At about 200ft AGL the flight crew identified they had no left aileron control. The command pilot informed the tow pilot of their difficulties and requested they be towed into position to conduct a right-hand circuit to the operational runway. The landing was completed without further incident and a post-flight inspection revealed nosewheel damage, a cracked front bulkhead with delamination from the skin, and interference with (and possible bending of) the aileron control circuit. This incident highlights the importance of always having an authorised inspector, who is familiar with the loads that the sailplane is likely to have been subjected to during a heavy landing, conduct a thorough inspection of all the likely damage points. For specific guidance on heavy landing inspections, refer to GFA Basic Sailplane Engineering, Chapter 25

19-Nov-2020 waga
Other Powerplant/Propulsion Issues
Stemme S10-VT
Under investigation. During a ferry flight from South Australia to Western Australia and while over the Nullarbor, the engine began to run roughly. The vibration caused by the rough-running engine dislodged the nose probe, which hit the propeller. The probe smashed one blade of the propeller, chipped the other blade, and made a small hole in the wing. Fortunately, the glider was over Loongana WA airstrip, where a safe landing was made.

21-Nov-2020 NSWGA
SZD-48-1 Jantar Std 2
During aerotow launch the glider climbed through sharp and relatively severe turbulence. At about 2000ft AGL the pilot released from tow, at which point the glider’s canopy departed, missing the airframe entirely. The pilot observed the canopy tumbling towards the ground and then joined circuit and landed without further incident.
The pilot reported the glider was being flown for the first time with the seat back one notch further forward to allow reach of a newly installed instrument (LX100). When the canopy was put onto the glider the pilot found his head was touching the canopy. The pilot readjusted the seating to move it down and forward to allow adequate clearance. The pre take-off checks were then resumed and take-off initiated.
The pilot believes he locked the canopy when it was placed on the glider and thought it curious that the canopy stayed in place during the turbulence in the early part of the launch. The pilot suspects that either the locking mechanism was disturbed when he adjusted the seating position, or it may have gradually unlocked in the turbulence. The pilot stated that he did not recommence his pre take-off check after it was interrupted, so he could not state with certainty that the canopy was secured prior to launch. In hindsight, the pilot suspects his past incident free experience had led him to become complacent regarding his ‘checks’ when flying solo, and was perhaps combined with reduced currency due the COVID-19 pandemic.

21-Nov-2020 NSWGA
Wheels up landing
The pilot was flying "hors concourse" at the NSW State competition. On the last day of competition an assigned area task had been set with a 15km finish circle around the home airfield. After rounding the final turnpoint the pilot realised he would need to lose height in order to land off a straight-in approach, so flew the latter part of the approach at 80 knots with the airbrakes extended. On nearing the airfield, the pilot made his flap and rim adjustments but forgot to lower the undercarriage. The glider landed on the grass runway with the wheel retracted.
The glider suffered only minor abrasions to the lower fuselage. This is not an uncommon incident at competitions where straight-in approaches are encouraged to minimise circuit congestion and potential conflicts. Under normal flying operations a pilot will conduct at least three legs of a circuit and will conduct a pre-landing check during the downwind leg. However, a straight-in approach off a racing finish is a departure from normal operating procedures that requires the pilot to amend their normal routine, especially in the conduct of checklists.  
It is also a time of high workload that can cause a pilot to become overloaded and goal fixated. Concentrating on only one thing while flying, such as how the approach is to be conducted, can be dangerous, leading to loss of situational awareness and control. It is for these reasons that pilots conducting straight-in approaches at competitions must plan for the landing well in advance and ensure that once the finish line has been crossed that they make the transition to landing pilot and properly configure the aircraft while maintaining situational awareness.


25-Nov-2020 NSWGA
Wheels up landing
LS 6-c
What Happened
After arriving at the home aerodrome in turbulent conditions during a storm, the pilot forgot to conduct a pre-landing check and did not identify that he had not configured the aircraft for landing. The aircraft touched down with the undercarriage retracted.

The pilot was flying in the Narromine Cup and had returned to Narromine aerodrome after a 3½ hour flight where he found localised storms and quickly changing weather conditions. The pilot intended to land and flew towards the circuit area between the rain showers where he experienced significant turbulence and sink. The pilot stated: “I was concerned about the power of the falling rain and the associated wind. My focus was to avoid the rain cells and get the glider into the circuit as I was losing height rapidly.” The pilot made a radio call to the ground operations and requested wind direction and preferred runway. Over the next few minutes, he was advised of 2 different wind directions and 2 different preferred Runways as the wind direction was changing ever few minutes. The pilot elected to land on RWY22 Grass and found he had to modify his circuit due to the strong sink. The pilot made a successful landing in turbulent conditions but touched down with the undercarriage retracted.

Safety Advice
Pilot workload varies, even during routine flights, from low to high and will rise in the event of abnormal weather conditions or aircraft malfunctions. During high workload, pilots are especially vulnerable to error and psychological issues such as task fixation. In this case, abnormal weather conditions, high workload and an element of stress resulted in the pilot omitting to complete his prelanding checks that would have alerted him to the undercarriage being retracted. The risk of error is higher in single-pilot operations where there is no co-pilot to assist with resource management. The task of managing threats and errors is difficult in single-pilot operations but can be improved if pilots conduct a Situation Awareness review after a period of high workload. For more information, refer to the document ‘Gliding – Threat and Error Management’ available from the GFA Documents Library.

6 Dec -2020 gq
Other Crew and Cabin Safety Issues
What Happened
A training flight was being conducted with the student, following pre take off checks, take-off commenced uneventfully.  At approximately 200 ft AGL the instructor in the rear seat noticed the right-hand shoulder strap of the front seat harness was hanging loosely over the student’s shoulder. The instructor took control of the glider while the student fastened their harness.

The instructor and student boarded the glider for the student’s second training flight on the day. The instructor listened to the student correctly verbalise his pre- and post- boarding checks in preparation for the aerotow launch. During the launch the instructor noticed the loose shoulder harness and asked the student to check if his harness was secure at which point the student found the harness was not secured at all. The student fastened the harness while the instructor had control of the aircraft.

The student did not secure the harness on entry to the glider. The student conducted the pre- and post-boarding components of their pre take-off checks but failed to physically confirm that his harness was secured. The harness type in this glider is four point with a central buckle which is turned to release. The instructor confirmed that there was no noticeable distraction while they prepared for the launch. The student had flown in this particular aircraft on approximately ten previous occasions.

Causal factors 
The student stated that he must have checked the parachute harness and not his seat harness while conducting the pre take-off check. The instructor cannot visually see that the harness has been secured from the rear seat. The student had only completed 10 training flights at the time of the incident and is relatively inexperienced and still getting familiar with boarding and pre-launch procedures.  

Safety Advice
On boarding a glider, the crew should always secure their harness as a first priority. Instructors might consider visually checking the security of the student’s harness before boarding during initial training flights until the student has developed this habit. When checking the ‘Harness’ during the post-boarding component of the pre take-off checks, the pilot must visually look at the harness buckle and apply pressure against the straps to confirm it is tight and secure. This incident serves as a reminder to all pilots of the importance of completing checklists in a thorough and methodical.

11 Dec -2020 VSA
Aircraft Separation
Pik-20 - Piper PA-28-161

Occurences 1
What Happened
The pilot of a Piper PA-28 reported passing close to a glider approximately 35NM WSW of Wagga Wagga at 6000ft in Class G airspace while flying on a converging heading. 
What Happened
The pilot of a Piper PA-28 reported passing close to a glider approximately 35NM WSW of Wagga Wagga at 6000ft in Class G airspace while flying on a converging heading. 


The Piper PA-28 crew were on a closed-circuit training flight from Wagga Wagga, with waypoints being Albury and Narrandera. The glider pilot was flying a 340km closed-circuit task originating from Tocumwal, with turn points being Corowa and The Rock. At about 14:58 local time the Piper PA-28, on a heading to Narrandera, and glider, on a heading to Tocumwal, passed within proximity of each other. Flight data logs for both aircraft were made available for review. The glider pilot carried a ‘NANO’ flight recorder that features an integrated 66-channel GPS receiver, built-in antenna and built-in battery. Flight data, such as GPS derived time, position and altitude, are stored directly in IGC format and are downloadable through a USB connection. The unit was set to record data points at two-second intervals. The track from the PA-28 was derived from Flight Radar 24. Altitude was derived from the ADS-B unit that was set to standard pressure (1013.2 HPa). The Area QNH pressure difference on the day was about 9Hpa, or about 270ft. At the time of the Airprox event, the glider was flying in the cruise at about 70 knots on a heading of 247 degrees at about 5,800ft, having been in the glide and slowly descending from 6,000ft. The PA 28 was in the cruise at about 98 knots on a heading of about 345 degrees at about 6,000ft. Analysis of the flight logs, coupled with the statements from the pilots, revealed the glider passed right to left of the PA-28 about 200ft below and 0.45NMs to the left of PA-28. The glider pilot stated that he did not see the PA-28 approaching from the left and said that at that time his focus was likely to be on threats in front, above and below, and at least 60 degrees either side. He further stated: “I would like to think that I try to keep a good lookout at all times, however it is impossible to be looking everywhere at every second of a flight.” The PA-28 command pilot stated that the glider passed within an estimated few hundred feet under his aircraft, and that the crew had not seen the glider coming. He stated, “The glider passed under the right wing to the left and continued west. We were maintaining A060. We contacted Melbourne Centre to report the glider.”
Safety Advice
In this case CAR 162 requires that when two aircraft are on converging headings at approximately the same height, the aircraft that has the other on its right (i.e the PA-28) must give way. In addition, power-driven heavier-than-air aircraft must give way to gliders. However, this rule relies on the principle of see-and-avoid. By itself, the concept of ‘see-and-avoid’ is far from reliable. It is important that pilots apply the principles of ‘see-and-avoid’ in conjunction with an active listening watch. Research has shown the effectiveness of a search for other traffic is eight times greater under alerted circumstances than when un-alerted. However, pilots should be mindful that transmission of information by radio does not guarantee receipt and complete understanding of the information. Without understanding and confirmation of the transmitted information, the potential for alerted see-and-avoid is reduced to the less safe situation of un-alerted see-and-avoid. Although glider pilots are not required to monitor the Area Frequency in Class G airspace, if a radio with dual frequency monitoring is fitted the pilot should monitor the area frequency to enhance situational awareness. The following publications provide some useful information on the see-and-avoid principles:
ATSB publication - Limitations of the see-and-avoid principle (1991)
ATSB publication - Safety in the vicinity of non-towered aerodromes (2010) AR-2008-044(2)
Civil Aviation Advisory Publication – CAAP 166-01 Operations in the vicinity of non-controlled aerodromes
Civil Aviation Regulations 1988, CAR 166 – Radio broadcasting by pilots overflying non-designated, non-controlled aerodromes
Civil Aviation Advisory Publication – CAAP 166-2 Pilots’ responsibility for collision avoidance in the vicinity of non-towered (non-controlled) aerodromes
Be heard, be seen, be safe - Radio procedures in non-controlled airspace
GFA Operational Safety Bulletin (OSB) 02/12 - Lookout for Glider Pilots
GFA Operational Safety Bulletin (OSB) 02/14 - See and Avoid for Glider Pilots