Operations resources


Non-controlled aerodromes


CAAP 166

Pilots of radio-equipped aircraft are strongly recommended to use ‘standard’ aerodrome traffic circuit procedures and radio broadcasts at all non-controlled aerodromes.

Pilots are encouraged to turn on external lights, where fitted, when in the  vicinity of a non-controlled aerodrome, and until the aircraft has landed and  is clear of all runways.

Transponders can be detected by aircraft equipped with airborne collision avoidance system (ACAS) or traffic collision avoidance systems (TCAS), allowing them to ‘see’ other aircraft and take evasive action. Pilots of transponder-equipped aircraft should, at all times, ensure their transponder is switched to ON/ALT (Mode C), especially when operating in the vicinity of a non-controlled aerodrome. In the event of a radio failure, it is important to select and squawk (transmit) code 7600 in Mode C on their transponders.

So as not to impede commercial aviation, pilots flying recreational, sport or general aviation (GA) aircraft for their own leisure, should consider giving way to aircraft being used for commerce provided that the inconvenience to their own operation is not great and it can be done safely. Operators of commercial aircraft should never expect a give-way offer to be made. Any offer to give way must be explicit and its acceptance acknowledged.

Pilots are reminded of their responsibility to see and avoid (CAR 163A); to maintain vigilance in looking out for other traffic. Pilots should not assume that no local air traffic exists if they do not receive any radio transmissions relating to the presence of other aircraft.

The following is a non-exhaustive list of examples where not receiving a radio transmission fails to prove that the airspace is clear of traffic.

Where you and/or the other pilot(s):

  • may not have radio communication available, or VHF coverage is limited (for example, due to lack of ground-based VHF equipment) and only pilots in the immediate vicinity of other aircraft with VHF radios can communicate (see investigation number AO-2013-105 at www.atsb.gov.au)
  • may not have set up the aircraft’s radio equipment properly (for example, volume) (see investigation number 200605091 at www.atsb.gov.au)
  • transmit on the CTAF simultaneously, in which case neither you nor the other pilot would receive any audible transmissions (see investigation numbers AO-2013-205 and AO-2013-148 at www.atsb.gov.au).

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