In two previous blog posts, (click here and here) I reported that eagle-eyed Melbourne researcher, Paul Dean, had spotted an interesting Australian Transport Safety Bureau preliminary report. This report concerned a near collision between an "unknown object," and a De Havilland DHC-8 aircraft, registration VH-XFX, near Perth international airport on 19 March 2014.
In jointly researching the incident, Paul Dean submitted an FOI request to Air Services Australia, asking for a copy of radar coverage around the time of the incident. Paul received the relevant radar data. Paul kindly sent me a copy of the data, and at run time 0106 the DHC-8 aircraft appears on the screen, and it, and surrounding commercial aircraft can be followed, until they land at Perth. The data was examined by an experienced air traffic controller, who advised that the data was a compilation of both primary and secondary radar, but that no "unknown object" appeared on the screen.
Meanwhile, with Paul's concurrence, I simultaneously submitted an FOI request to the Department of Defence, seeking a copy of any primary radar coverage from RAAF Perth, around the time of the incident. This FOI request was refused, on the grounds, that as the relevant radar tape had been re-used, in line with standing orders, and there was no such "document" that they could provide to me. I had been hoping that primary, as opposed to secondary radar, would show the "unknown object." Memo for next time is that one needs to submit an FOI request to the DOD immediately after an incident. This of course assumes that you hear about it right away. This was not the case with this particular incident.
Final ATSB report:
The four page ATSB report was released today. Here are excerpts from the report:
"...the crew sighted a bright strobe light directly in front of the aircraft...the light appeared to track towards the aircraft and the crew realised that the light was on an unknown object, possibly an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)..."
It passed the aircraft at extremely close range.
"The pilot reported that the object was cylindrical in shape and grey in colour. It was at about 3,700ft AMSL and in controlled airspace. The crew did not receive a traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS) alert. The airspace below 3,500ft AMSL was military restricted airspace and the Australian Defence Force was not operating UAVs and was not aware of any UAV operating in the area at the time of the incident. The ATSB was not able to confirm the details of the object or identify any UAV operator in the area at that time."
A cylindrical shaped, grey coloured, object, caused an aircraft pilot to take action, to avoid a perceived collision, near Perth, Western Australia on 19 March 2014. The ATSB report suggested it was "possibly" a UAV. However, there is no confirmatory evidence that this is the definitive answer. I believe, therefore, that in my opinion, the object fits the definition of UAP.