As a cohort of pilots, maintainers, instructors and enthusiasts, we all have varying degrees of involvement within the RAAus community. However, one thing that we all have in common is a role in contributing towards safety outcomes, not only for ourselves, but for our fellow aviators.

One key aspect to this is RAAus’ reporting culture. Each year we receive hundreds of occurrence reports from members. Each one of these reports is then individually triaged and reviewed for any outcomes that may improve aviation safety. RAAus maintains a fair and just reporting culture, meaning the outcome we seek from receiving occurrence reports is to improve education, not to punish someone who has made a mistake. Of course, an exception to this rule is if it is found that someone knowingly chooses to violate safe operating procedures. In this case, some form of disciplinary action may be required.

I was recently impressed by the actions taken from one pilot in particular, who reported an incident to RAAus. The pilot was departing an airfield and had accidentally bumped the radio during pre-flight checks, resulting in the inadvertent selection of an incorrect frequency. The pilot commenced their take-off roll, however once airborne, passed overhead another aircraft who was simultaneously rolling on a crossing runway. The pilot then realised they were communicating on an incorrect radio frequency. More importantly, the pilot elected to learn from their mistake. They later made phone contact with the other aircraft to debrief what had occurred, and made changes to their pre-takeoff actions to ensure that this occurrence was not repeated. They also fulfilled their reporting requirements by submitting the occurrence online at Whilst the occurrence had the potential to result in a significant breakdown in safety, the key outcome was that the pilot had not simply accepted it as a mistake, but had taken ownership of their actions and put processes into place to prevent a reoccurrence. This is the outcome we seek for all occurrences reported to RAAus, and in this instance, no further follow-up was required. If all members had this same approach, safety would be significantly improved for everyone.

Did you know that occurrence reporting is a legal requirement for all pilots?
Any occurrence that impacts aviation safety, or has the potential to impact safety, must be reported to RAAus. This includes occurrences that many of us may take for granted, such as a hard landing, a bird strike, or a near miss. For maintainers, defects must also be reported, such as identification of a defect in an aircraft part or failure of a particular component. RAAus’ reporting system allows reporting of four different occurrence categories:

  1. Accidents & Incidents
  2. Defects
  3. Hazards
  4. Complaints

Just as important as the review of individual occurrences from members is the data that can be generated by combining all occurrences received by RAAus. This allows us to track trends and prioritise our safety promotions based on the number of occurrence reports we receive. Whilst you may think that reporting a single minor occurrence to RAAus may not have an impact on safety, you may be depriving RAAus and other members of important information that may assist in improving safety for everyone. Reporting observed events or unsafe actions may also allow RAAus to improve safety for other airspace users and may be done so confidentially from our reporting system online.

Members can contribute to improving aviation safety by staying up-to-date on key occurrence types and by insuring processes are put in place to prevent these from occurring. Individual safety occurrence summaries are available on the RAAus website with more information on safety data available from, or through the safety tab within the RAAus member portal.

You may be aware that our key focus areas are currently:

  • Loss of control events, which result in the highest rate of injury and damage to RAAus aircraft, including 63% of fatal RAAus accidents over the past five years.
  • Engine failure or malfunction events, which are the most frequent occurrence type received by RAAus, many of which may be avoided through thorough maintenance or pre-flight inspections.
  • Near miss occurrences, which are one of the most common occurrence types reported to RAAus, and occur most commonly within the circuit area.

Ask yourself, “What can I do to reduce the likelihood of one of these occurrences happening to me?”
Perhaps you could seek additional skill development with an instructor? When was the last time you practiced your emergency procedures? Are you allowing yourself to become distracted within the cockpit when your eyes should be outside within the circuit area? Are you actively listening and making regular radio calls to reduce the risk of a near miss event happening to you, or should you conduct some additional maintenance training to improve your knowledge?

So, what is your role in safety?
If each of us does our part in keeping up-to-date on safety information, continuing to improve our skills and reporting occurrences to RAAus, the airspace in which we fly will continue to be that little bit safer for everyone. After all, we fly for fun, but we all want to come home safely at the end of the day!