Civilian Aircraft Lands In Safe Hands


A civilian light aircraft with one crew and two passengers on board performed a textbook wheels-up landing at RAAF Base Williamtown with the help of air traffic controllers from 453 Squadron.

Flight Lieutenant Bree Woollett, one of the three controllers who guided the stricken Beechcraft B200 Super King Air on May 13, said the pilot reported the landing-gear malfunction to air traffic control shortly after take-off.

“He requested to remain within Williamtown airspace to troubleshoot,” Flight Lieutenant Woollett said.

“Troubleshooting revealed that it was unlikely the aircraft would be able to land with its wheels down, so we began preparing for a belly landing.”

This involved burning off fuel, which included the aircraft circling over the Newcastle area for more than three hours while emergency responders prepared for all contingencies.

“Generally speaking, emergencies don’t come with a lot of time,” Flight Lieutenant Woollett said.

“Luckily, in an unlucky situation, he had a lot of fuel on board and burning down that fuel prior to landing was something that needed to happen – that bought us hours and was something we had in our favour.”

While the Super King Air circled overhead, a full air base emergency was declared on the ground.

‘Successful emergency response requires exemplary teamwork, dedication and the ability to remain calm under pressure.’

Williamtown’s Aerodrome Emergency Plan was activated, and both military and civilian emergency services were moved into position, ready to respond.

“The realness of the situation is not lost on you and you definitely feel yourself kick into gear,” Flight Lieutenant Woollett said.

“Once the pilot was satisfied with his fuel levels and the weather at the airfield, he made his approach, and safely landed the aircraft on its belly.

“He did so well.”

Safe on the ground, Flight Lieutenant Woollett said she felt relieved and thrilled for the pilot and passengers.

“It would’ve been a very stressful few hours leading up to the landing, especially for the passengers, so to see it so well executed and all three of them step out of the aircraft unharmed, was a big win for everyone involved,” she said.

The other two air traffic controllers involved in the incident were Flight Lieutenant Wade Dring and Flying Officer Troy Cousins.

“Teamwork in an emergency is everything,” Flight Lieutenant Woollett said.

“It’s emergency situations like this that see the controlling team really pull together to ensure the pilot is supported and the appropriate emergency services are activated and ready.”

Commanding Officer of 453 Squadron Wing Commander Adrian Buckley said he was incredibly proud of the way the controllers handled the emergency.

“Successful emergency response requires exemplary teamwork, dedication and the ability to remain calm under pressure,” Wing Commander Buckley said.

“A key enabler is our high-quality ADF training that ensures staff are ready to respond.

“It was great to see all emergency responders quickly coming together to support the pilot, who also did amazingly well.”

/Public Release. View in full here.