Things that go bump in the night,

Firies Union submission to the 20/20 inquiry -  Wink

Via the RRAT inquiry webpages: 53 United Firefighters Union Australia (PDF 259 KB) 


1. Australia needs to change its method of cost recovery for ARFF services to properly identify the customer of ARFFS.

Adopting a cost recovery method that identifies and charges the true customer of ARFF services will remove the pressure from airlines and airport operators to reduce or remove ARFF services altogether. The Airservices Annual report states that Australia had more than 160 million passengers in 2018/19. This would allow for a very cost effective ARFFS levy system that will easily fund ARFFS as a standalone National Fire Services and return a dividend to Government. A Fire Levy on all passenger tickets would provide a fair and equitable system that recovers enough costs to provide a professional ARFF service wherever it is needed. This levy system, or passenger facilitation charge would be inexpensive enough not to be a burden on passengers and would apply at all locations deemed to require an ARFF service by a valid risk assessment. There is reason to believe that there is a willingness to pay on the part of the passenger to reduce their risk of fatality or injury. It would also be very hard to argue that a one to two dollar per ticket ARFFS levy was grossly disproportionate to the risk being mitigated. It would also pose no burden on airports airlines or small operators.

 2. Conduct a risk assessment of Australia’s 193 certified aerodromes and apply appropriate risk treatments. Implement a risk based ARFF establishment criterion. 

In collaboration between CASA, Australia’s state fire services, UFUA ARFFS experts and Airservices a wide-ranging risk assessment of Australia’s airports should be undertaken. Ideally this would begin with a bench top exercise to identify and determine the various aircraft risk factors. Aircraft size is a common factor used by other countries in determining risk. Movement numbers also indicate the level of exposure to that risk. The assessment should include whether state fire services can manage an incident involving smaller aircraft or whether supplementary equipment, training or a dedicated ARFF service is required. Upon compilation of the list of airports requiring risk treatment a location-specific risk assessment to determine the required resources should be conducted. 

3. Reinstate the ARFFS at all secondary airports at Category 2 and manage the risks of these very busy airports properly.

Moorabbin, Bankstown, Parafield, Jandakot and Archerfield should have Category 2 ARFFS services re-established as a priority. Consideration of Camden being ARFFS protected should also be determined. Norfolk Island, the Cocos Christmas Islands (Keeling) and Newcastle ARFFS should all be provided by Airservices or a National Standalone Aviation Fire Service.

4. Remove ARFFS services from Airservices and make it a standalone National Fire Service.

This would separate the Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP) parts of the business which are more suited to private providers or business models. The National Aviation Fire service part of the business is larger than the fire services of ACT, NT and Tasmanian Fire services. It should be established as a standalone aviation fire service protecting Australia’s Airports and even Defence bases. The use of ARFFS during the bushfire crisis in 2019 shows that it Australia's general aviation industry Submission 53 can and has formed a useful surge capacity to support State fire services during major disasters and emergencies. 

5.Ensure CASA enforces proper compliance with the ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices for ARFFS.

Provide ICAO standard ARFFS coverage to all freight and nominated alternate ports and remove the remission factor allowance completely, as recommended in the ICAO SARPs. 

6. Form a National Aviation Fire Service Inspectorate either within CASA or external to CASA to ensure proper compliance with ICAO and ARFFS Regs are achieved and maintained. 

Ensure the ARFFS is inspected and regulated properly by professional current fire officers that have vast operational experience and can intervene effectively and understand what a genuine risk mitigation strategy is, and what is just spin and not unworkable in a real life ARFFS application.

Via Oz Flying: 

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Restore ARFFS to Secondary Airports: Union
5 February 2021
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The United Firefighters Union of Australia has called for Aviation Rescue Fire Fighting Services (ARFFS) to be restored to five of Australia's busiest general aviation airports.

In a submission presented to the Senate Inquiry into the GA Industry published today, the Aviation Branch of UFUA said that ARFFS should be available at Archerfield, Bankstown, Jandakot, Moorabbin and Parafield.

Although the movements at each airport is below the 350,000 trigger for ARFFS, UFUA believes the risk at these airports is high enough to justify the service.

"The United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch believes that the removal of ARFFS services from some of the busiest airports in Australia was a fatally flawed decision and we also believe that several people have paid for this decision with their lives in crashes that have occurred at these secondary airports since ARFFS was withdrawn," the union states in the submission.

"These critical secondary airports generating billions in revenue and employment are worth protecting properly as are our next generation of Australian aviators.

"We also believe that airports that meet the criteria for an ARFFS regardless of whether it is primarily a Defence base should be automatically provided by Airservices or a standalone Federal Government ARFFS National Aviation Fire Service removed from Airservices."

In justifying the demand to restore services, UFUA cites several reasons why the risk profile at the five capital city GA airports should be taken into account when assessing the need for ARFFS, including:

  • charter operations regularly use the airports, a sector which the ATSB says is up to nine time more likely to suffer crashes

  • training operations do regular circuit training, which entails the highest risk phases of flight

  • GA aircraft are of lighter construction, which increases the risk of people being trapped in the event of a crash

  • a high proportion of aircraft are flown by trainee pilots

  • GA aircraft use avgas, which is more volatile

  • the proximity of industrial parks, several of which have been built on airport land, and residential areas

  • secure airside areas can delay local emergency services when access is needed.

UFUA believes that services have not been reinstated despite fatal accidents at some of the airports because of the cost.

"Airlines and the aviation industry in Australia, unlike those in Europe and America, tend to see services like the ARFF as an unnecessary cost to their operation," the union says. "After all nothing ever crashes in Australia.

"To illustrate how this mind set has permeated the industry it is simple to note that the current regulation allows for any Australian airport to provide a service at their location for any airports with fewer than 350,000 passengers. Few airports in Australia other than some large mine sites, though, have taken advantage of this option to mitigate their risks, even those with regular large passenger jet aircraft movements."

UFUA also says consideration should be given to restoring firefighters to Camden, Norfolk Island and Cocos Islands. The union also believes that Newcastle, which has military ARFFS coverage, should have a civilian service accountable to CASA for standards.

Airservices Australia provides ARFFS to 27 airports across the country. In the year 2019-2020, the services responded to 5491 callouts, 336 of which were aircraft incidents. A further 119 were community assistance operations.

MTF...P2  Tongue

GFA condemn Harfwit's mob on East Coast class E consult -  Rolleyes

Via Oz Flying: 

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Gliding Federation slams Airservices as Class E Consultation ends
17 February 2021
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The Gliding Federation of Australia (GFA) has criticised Airservices Australia over the consultation process used for the Class E airspace proposal.

The proposal, if implemented, would see the base of the Class E airspace between Cairns and Melbourne lowered from 8500 feet AMSL to 1500 feet AGL, removing a significant amount of Class G airspace.

Consultation on the proposal closed last Monday after only three weeks.

In a letter sent to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Michael McCormack on Monday, GFA President Steve Pegler said that the Airservices proposal lacked information and the GA community wasn't given enought time to prepare submissions.

"Engagement with Airservices Australia is usually timely and appropriate," Pegler points out. "However, in the case of this proposal to lower Class E on the east coast the GFA was surprised and alarmed that it was announced on the Airservices website without an industry warning, with only a small amount of information, and with a short time frame for consultation and a seemingly large impact on our operations.

"Normal consultative forums for airspace changes were not informed in advance."

Pegler stated in the letter that the GFA believed Airservices had circumvented proper consultation procedure including government guidelines.

"The absence of a Regulatory Impact Statement, with inputs from all aviation sectors, for a proposal with far-reaching impacts on access to airspace and regulatory compliance overheads, is also of concern. The government’s own regulatory best practice guidelines require stakeholder consultation and a Regulatory Impact Statement where any change in access, costs and regulatory burden for compliance and management will occur.

"This proposal will have massive cost and regulatory compliance impacts on many general, recreational and sporting aviation enterprises in Australia, with a particularly heavy impact in regional areas ...

"The information on this proposal is not sufficient in detail to thoroughly evaluate the merits and risks and provide constructive feedback at this time."

Pegler asked the minister to intervene and force Airservices to modify the consultation and regulatory change process.

The GFA was one of the first associations to speak out against the proposal, citing the need for motor gliders and tugs to use radio in Class E, carry and use transponders and the difficulty in monitoring more than one frequency.

Consultation on the proposal closed last Monday after more than 1000 submissions were made.

"Responses detailed a wide range of insights from all aspects of industry, including airlines, industry associations and general aviation operators," an Airservices spokesperson told 
Australian Flying.

"We are now assessing all feedback received to input into our detailed design process, and in particular are revising our proposal to address ... key issues highlighted in the feedback."

Airservices has said that issues raised in submissions include:

  • continued access to Class G airspace by VFR aircraft have no transponder and/or radio

  • consideration for operations where the new Class E base could result in safety being compromised due to terrain or weather

  • confusion in relation to the airspace boundary reference to AGL versus AMSL

  • operational complexity, workload, communication/coordination, training and education for both air traffic controllers and pilots

  • reduced surveillance and communications coverage gaps within controlled airspace

  • reduce the likelihood of delays on departures and arrivals

  • clarify the safety case for change, with consideration to cost/benefit implications to stakeholders impacted by the proposal

  • not enough time for the industry to consider the implications of the change.
"We are currently considering next steps based on this feedback, including how best to refine the detailed design and we will provide an update to industry in the week starting 22 February via our Engage platform," Airservices Australia said.

MTF...P2  Tongue

Testiculation (N). Testiculating (V).

Or; talking bollocks with your hands flapping. Take a few moments; turn the sound off and watch Sharp and the other 'professionals' as they calmly, quietly sit still and make their points. Then watch the Halfwit's performance; and the body language. No degree in psychology required to read that – its like watching one of those folk who stand alongside a speaker 'signing' for the deaf; or a palm tree, frantic in a gale.

Mind you; Halfwit needs to be nervous and it shows; there are some big ugly questions surrounding the ADSB roll out and the huge debt the failed, now almost redundant 'Big Sky' farce has cost – to be weighed against the benefit to the nation and the aviation industry. So far we have seen nothing worthy of mention; indeed it all seems to have been swept under the Canberra carpet.

Aye well, 20 minutes of the Halfwit's manic eyebrow waggling and testiculation, even muted, is 18 more than I can bear to watch. I do wish some one would whistle up the ATCO union chaps; I'd love to hear their side of the story and their suggestions for making the movement of aircraft efficient and cost effective. Now that I would watch - with interest. It seems passing strange to me that a powerful, efficient highly effective union would not be out front, presenting common sense to a Senate committee. Perhaps they have lost their 'courage' straps; or flatly refuse to wear pink ties. Who knows.

Toot – toot.......

The Harfwit concedes on East Coast Class E -  Dodgy  

Via Oz Flying:

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Airservices releases Revised Class E Proposal
17 March 2021
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Airservices Australia yesterday released documents on a revised proposal for Class E airspace on the eastern seaboard.
Previously, Airservices' proposed lowering the base of Class E from Cairns to Melbourne to 1500 AGL, which drew a lot of criticism from the general aviation community.

The revised proposal would now see the base of the Class E lowered to either 4500, 6500 or 8500 feet AMSL depending on the terrain below.

According to Airservices, the new levels will:

  • improve safety of IFR operations by providing greater control services

  • minimise adverse impact on the needs of airspace users, particularly those without transponder or radio equipment and preserve greater volumes of Class G

  • provide greater safety of operations outside proposed Class E airspace to avoid terrain, including a minimum of 1360 feet of Class G airspace between terrain and the base of Class E airspace

  • remove potential for confusion regarding the operation of aircraft in Class E or Class G airspace, and which frequency the pilot should be on, by referencing airspace levels to AMSL

  • reduce the impact of frequency transfer during critical high-workload phases of flight between area frequency and CTAF while transiting across Class E and Class G airspace.

Airservices says the revised proposal is in response to feedback from the industry.

"Airservices would like to thank all airspace users and aviation industry stakeholders that provided feedback on our proposal to lower the base of Class E airspace along the east coast of Australia.

"During the initial consultation period of 20 January to 15 February 2021, we received over 1,000 responses including significant feedback from general aviation operators around safety, risk, operational needs, aircraft fitment, cost/benefit and operator workload considerations."

Consultation on the revised proposal is open until 30 April on the Airservices Australia's engagement website.

MTF...P2  Tongue

In a tangle:-

Bring on Estimates. Old Halfwit has got himself in a hell of a tangle; all it abit over my head. However, over on the UP – HERE – there are some wise, qualified heads talking good sense with 'real' insights into the awful mess ASA have managed to bring about. Even the usual 'trolls' have been quiet while the clever folk with a handle on the dreadful state our airspace management discuss (as reasonable men do) the problems and how best to fix 'em up. The thread is a little 'bumpy' at the kick off but by the time you get to the last page; IMO, it's worth the time – NASAG made sense of it all, years ago – however.....

Estimates and minister both need to take a long hard look at the mess; it would be great to resolve these issues now, before our airways become busy again – and some of the posters on the UP thread really 'know their onions' – even the redundent multi million flop of 'One-Sky' gets a mention.

Let's see what the Estimates crew make of the 'mess' and the logical solutions. Maybe even ask the minister a couple of questions about airspace management. Can't wait...He'll probably begin by talking about the airspace between his ears.

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Harfwit & CO in a Class E all of their own??  Dodgy

Chair Senator Mack questions the Harfwit in Senate Estimates... Rolleyes

Quote:CHAIR: I've had a significant amount of contact around this—not positive—so I'll look forward to a demonstration of how this is going to maintain activity, particularly in general aviation, and what is the demonstrated safety case, because there was also another case—anyway, I have committed to not holding things up for too long. I am very interested in this topic, and I hope you'll include me in your advice as to when you are prepared to go to CASA.

Mr Harfield : Absolutely. I will admit that, as a result of the way we initially positioned some of our wording, some of the feedback that we got did give the impression a decision had been made when that was not the intention at all. That's why we are going through the process of making sure we have taken on board over 1,000 pieces of feedback. We're now back out again, and we'll make sure you see that. After that consultation, when we get to where we want to finalise it, we will put that out for comment as well.

AusALPA call 'BOLLOCKS' on the Harfwitted, tranpsarent, monkey in the room... Wink : Ref - AusALPA submission to ASA on class E proposal:    

Quote:...Transparency of risk identification and feedback processes

AusALPA is concerned that Airservices is exacerbating rather than repairing the perception that Airservices is rushing ahead with significant airspace changes based on an internal agenda rather than openly and transparently adopting an incremental
Australian Airline Pilots’ Association approach that is informed by the operational experience of the airspaces users, both in identifying potential hazards and post implementation.

In reviewing Airservices design and implementation safety case documents supplied to us under FOI provisions, we were disappointed to find significant parts of risk management discussions with industry representatives and others were redacted, far beyond anything vaguely associated with protection of personal privacy. The level of redaction indicates that the default Airservices position in regard to public exposure of the design and implementation safety cases for airspace changes is one of secrecy rather than the provision of transparent primacy to aviation safety.

AusALPA also notes that the consultation process for this latest proposal has bypassed ASTRA, the primary consultative body for these sorts of proposed changes. That decision is incomprehensible, especially given the level of industry representation and commitment to ASTRA, as well as the quality of advice demonstrably available.

Furthermore, the window for public consultation for such a far-reaching and significant change is inappropriately short, particularly at a time when many affected industry people are displaced from their primary occupations and desperately trying to survive. Coupling the short comment period with the very fact that Airservices intends to submit an ACP within 7 days of comment closure inexorably leads to the conclusion that Airservices has no intention or capacity to change the proposal to reflect industry feedback.

A number of our members have commented negatively on the attitude of Airservices representatives at the webinar intended to explain the proposed changes. They expressed to us the view that the process was box-ticking a consultation process for changes that, regardless of industry feedback, would be in place by December this year.

AusALPA considers the whole approach to this critical consultation to be arrogant, unsustainable and incompatible with appropriate aviation service provider governance.

We also note that, unlike many other agencies within the Transport and Infrastructure portfolio, Airservices does not publish stakeholder commentary or submissions. We view such public exposure of feedback by other agencies as a very positive feature of improving those agencies’ contribution to the Open Government initiatives of the Commonwealth government and we strongly recommend that Airservices reviews its somewhat recalcitrant view towards public scrutiny of its safety-related decision making...


AusALPA does not support the proposal to lower the base of Class E airspace to 1,500ft AGL in medium and high density enroute airspace between Cairns and Melbourne in December 2021 and believes that a significant rethink is required. The proposal should be withdrawn.

The Design and Implementation Safety Cases for this proposal (and all elements of the AMP) should be made public and redacted only to the minimum extent required to protect individual (but not corporate) privacy.

Many, if not most, of the touted benefits of this proposal are more hubris than of substance. In some cases, the likely outcomes are the opposite of what is suggested.

The proposal continues what seems to be a myopic rush to install Class E as the default Australian airspace but without the subtleties and operational maturity of the US NAS system upon which it is based.

AusALPA has seen nothing in the way of post implementation reviews (with particular emphasis on the flight operations aspects) of the existing pockets of Class E with lowest levels of 700ft and 1200ft AGL. The current proposal should not be implemented in the absence of such reviews, given the significant consequences of the proposed changes.

We consider 1500ft AGL to be an inappropriate choice for the lowest level of the proposed Class E airspace.

Our previous comments about the management and direction of Airservices airspace projects remain apposite...

Hmm...hopefully AusALPA are keeping an active brief on this with Chair Mack and the RRAT committee??

MTF...P2  Tongue

Advance on YMNG, Class E; & back to ToRsRolleyes

For my UP Chocfrog nominee POTW, I refer to this Advance post... Wink 


After 25 pages of posts on this subject can we get back to a very simple proposition indeed:

The function of ATC is to prevent collisions between aircraft.

Aircraft in VMC are (usually) able to see and avoid other aircraft, particularly if given relevant traffic.

Aircraft in IMC can NOT self separate under most circumstances even if they are given traffic.

Mangalore was a prime demonstration of this truth.

The aircraft were given traffic.

An aircraft on an instrument approach is legally required to fly the approach as published (or to go around, climbing but not deviating from the lateral confines of the published approach).

An aircraft on an IFR departure, particularly a training one is firstly required to have a pre-determined safe route to reach LSALT so is at least to some degree and maybe wholly constrained against lateral manoeuvering.

And is likely dealing with a simulated engine failure or such since that is what IFR training is all about.

Intelligent people responsible for safe aircraft operations in developed countries have determined that ATC must provide separation for all aircraft operating in IMC since they can not always do it themselves.

Airservices fails to grasp this simple concept.

This may be in part because Airservices no longer employ qualified, current IFR pilots who can tell the ATC staff what is required.

CASA, and OAR, as I have previously demonstrated are not compliant with their legal requirements.

I support the implementation of the US system of airspace classification and usage.... all of it.... the way they do it in the USA, not some local invention by those who do not know how to do it right.

Some folk on here like Dick, Geoff Fairless and LeadSled have the picture, fortunately.

Further, I have demonstrated why it is less costly (less workload) for ATC to provide separation than to provide traffic.

Why is the history of aviation in this country such that safety improvements only occur when there are enough dead bodies to cause an outcry? 


MTF...P2  Tongue

Hold the Choc Frog:-

I'll see your Advance Choc Frog nomination and raise you an Alphacentauri.

The 'Voice of Reason' thread on the UP is worth following, if just for the lack of 'agenda'  ridden bollocks and personal bias.  Solid common sense is always worth consideration.

Alpha :- “Lead Balloon, I think its premature to determine an answer at this point. However, the path to a solution is not hard to follow.

1. We need an agreed upon risk framework so that risk can be determined for certain operations in to particular locations (note I have not used the term airspace). The risk model is to include, traffic mix, traffic density and CNS capability. (amongst other things).
2. We also need an agreed methodology to determine the problem we are attempting to solve.
3. We need a risk acceptance framework where by risk can be determined, assessed and accepted against the problem. Not all problems need solutions. Some risks may be acceptable provided all parties are informed.

Lets take Ballina. (None of what I am about to type is a proposal. I have used these examples to trigger a discussion. That is all)
What exactly is the problem we are trying to solve? OAR would have you believe that communications masking from Lismore and over transmission is the problem that lead to the A320/Jabiru incident. But it is known fact that the Jabiru made a transmission, and no one else transmitted at the time. The A320 was in line of sight so terrain shielding also was not at play. So what caused the incident? Is it traffic mix? Is it poor training from Jabiru or A320 crew....I genuinely don't know, but shouldn't we try to find out what the root cause was before we introduce another set of complexities and problems? Class E at Ballina, would not have prevented the incident, and neither would the broadcast zones that are being proposed. Here's the final question, do we absolutely want to prevent a Jabiru from taking out an A320? I would argue, most probably, yes. So the solution is going to have make that the priority outcome, and that may mean excluding some types of operations. So we don’t want any probability of that even happening. (stay with me, I'm going somewhere with this)

Now take Mangalore.
We really don't know yet what actually caused this accident? We may end up putting it down to bad luck? But, how do we know there is not a latent error in the airspace system that could have this happen anywhere else? (I’m sure I read a comment along that line by you somewhere, I agree by the way).
But what if this is the 1:10(-9) event. Is that ok? Should we invest time/money in trying to make a system more safe, when everybody seemed happy with the 1:10(-9) risk?
In this way we need to develop tools to determine if a) there is an latent error or, b) this is the 1:10(-9) event. If its b) we also then need the testicular fortitude to stand by the level of risk that we have accepted. I feel terrible for those 4 blokes, its sad and I hope it never happens to me. But flying has a risk, we all accept it. Its not zero. If we establish that the risk at Mangalore is as we thought it was...does it need a solution?

So take the 2 scenarios above. 2 totally different problems, with what I hope would be 2 different set of airspace performance requirements, which would lead to 2 different outcomes with 2 different associated levels of risk. How then can the same solution be applied to both locations, and the same outcome be expected? All you are doing is adding another variable to an existing set of variables that have not been assessed appropriately in the first place.....this makes the risk increase significantly.

The point being if we have a mutually agreed framework with which to assess and determine the risk of operations at a particular location, and then you have an agreed framework with which to mitigate that risk (or not) then the outcome should be valid.

We are not ready for solutions yet.

Well said that man. {I reckon the budget could stretch to two Choc Frogs.}

Dear John...L&Ks Dick Smith -  Sad

Finally catching up... Blush 

Via AOPA Oz: 


April 8, 2021 By Benjamin Morgan

[Image: DickSmithProfile.png]

Published by Mr Dick Smith, 6th April 2021.


Dear John


I am writing this open letter to you as I am amazed to hear that you are preparing to stand for preselection for a National Party seat in the Senate.  Surely this can’t be so.

The aviation industry was part way through a major reform program when you took over as the responsible Minister.  These reforms had been started under Labor Minister Kim Beazley, who was well informed, involved and supportive of the necessary changes.  Further important reforms including the multi-million dollar cost saving portable Emergency Locator Transmitter approval took place under John Sharp.

When you became Minister, the reforms were stopped in their tracks.

As the longest serving Minister responsible for aviation (some six years and seven months) you had the duty  to continue with the reforms that would have improved airspace safety and enabled Australia to be a world leader in flight training, inbound aviation tourism, charter operations, maintenance and manufacturing.

You didn’t take that opportunity, you did the opposite.  Your lack of action has done immeasurable damage to the Australian aviation industry.

In relation to airspace, as the responsible Minister you issued a press release with great fanfare on 13 May 2002, announcing your Government’s decision to change to the National Airspace System (NAS) based on the proven US airspace model (see attached).

If implemented, this would have resulted in airline aircraft remaining in controlled airspace at airports like Ayers Rock and Ballina, rather than the less safe system that we have today – where airline pilots have to call other pilots while in cloud, and try to arrange “separation” so they don’t collide with each other.  No other country in the world has such an unsafe system.

There are now 15 deaths that most likely can be attributed to your failure to introduce the NAS reforms as decided by your Government.  There were six fatalities at Benalla on 28 July 2004, three fatalities at Mt Hotham on 8 July 2005, two at Coffs Harbour on 20 September 2019 and four at Mangalore on 19 February 2020.

Other than the media release, you showed no support for the airspace reform plan.  Just as importantly, you did not allocate the time required to familiarise yourself with the proposal so you had the confidence to “sell” it.  That was the prime reason the NAS safety upgrades did not take place.

Could it be that your bureaucratic advisers recommended that you not become informed on airspace because when people died in accidents, you couldn’t be held responsible?  If so, it has certainly worked.

I wonder if at the time your bureaucrats advised, “Minister, hear nothing, know nothing, do nothing, say nothing and we will protect you.” 

As the Brittany Higgins situation has recently shown this type of lack of accountability still continues in Canberra today.  You were clearly a master at it.

You made further announcements that you were going to introduce reforms, however nothing was ever done.  In November 1999, a year after you were appointed the Minister for Transport, you issued a press release stating:

“A new regulatory framework will make it possible for new operators to provide a control tower and rescue and firefighting services in competition with Airservices Australia.  We will phase in competition for these services.”

In your next six years as the Minister for Transport responsible for aviation, you did nothing to ensure that the competition changes came in – they haven’t to this day.  Small country towns, such as Ballina, do not have the higher level of safety that could be achieved with a locally operated air traffic control tower.  At the present time, airline aircraft are blundering around in cloud, with pilots attempting to avoid a collision with other planes in an unsafe 1930s type system that is unique in the world.

Rather than show leadership and “sell” the advantages of your proposal, you said nothing.  To this day, there are no locally owned air traffic control towers in Australia.  In the USA, 50% of towered airports are operated under contract.  Competition in these services reduces costs so it means more airports can receive the upgrade with a resultant increase in safety.

On 31 August 2004, you gave Airservices Australia, your air traffic control body, a written legally binding Ministerial direction (attached) requiring them to install an approach radar control service at places like Coffs Harbour if they were going to change the Class E airspace to “road block” Class C.  This safety direction is still current, has never been complied with and you have never explained why.

On 25 November 2004, you reversed parts of the NAS airspace introduction and created giant “road blocks” in the sky over country airports like Coffs Harbour and Tamworth but without the radar upgrade.  This has now resulted in multiple fatalities.  Nowhere else in the world is there similar “road block” airspace.

On 20 September 2019, aviator Jeffrey Hills and his son Matty had departed Murwillumbah in their Mooney aircraft and were heading to Taree at a safe height above the mountains when they were refused permission to fly through the “road block” airspace above Coffs Harbour.  They were forced to descend into the bad weather and mountains below.  They crashed into a mountainside and both Jeffrey and Matty were killed.[b] [/b]

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau report on this horrific and needless fatal accident implied that the Air Traffic Controller and the pilot were responsible and made no mention that you had reversed the NAS airspace and put the “road block” in place.  Then again their investigators would know that they would have limited career prospects if they told the truth and laid the blame on even an ex-minister.

I only remained the Chairman of the CASA Board for 18 months under your Ministership.  My fellow Board members and I looked for direction from you in relation to the necessary reforms that needed to be done to improve the safety of airspace and to stop the continuing destruction of the general aviation sector.  We got no support from you at all.

I resigned as Chairman on 22 March 1999 because it became obvious to me that you would not support the necessary reforms

Not long after my resignation, you introduced a Bill that abolished the Board.  This is what it said:

“The Bill abolishes the CASA Board and retains CASA as an independent statutory authority, thereby providing the Minister with stronger and more direct control over CASA’s governance and accountability in the areas of CASA’s policy directions and priorities…”

In fact, it’s clear you abolished the Board for the opposite reason.  You didn’t want the Board to recommend changes for which you could be held accountable.  Could there be any other reason?  In the next two years that you operated as Minister without the CASA Board, there were no reforms.

As you are aware, the Labor Government reinstated the CASA Board on 1 July 2009, nearly six years after you abolished it.

You will no doubt remember when I called you to advise that I had asked the CASA CEO to step down, as it was clear that he was not a reformer who would bring in the necessary changes.  You were apoplectic and said that you would not support such action.

How different you were to the Prime Minister, John Howard.  At the same time I was Chairman of the Centenary of Federation Council and I advised the Prime Minister that the CEO was not suitable for the position.  Mr Howard gave me immediate support and we replaced the CEO with a person who would competently manage the program.

Undoubtedly the greatest damage you inflicted on the industry took place on 5 October 2000 when, as the Minister responsible for Aviation, you made the following media announcement:

“I don’t think that we should ever regard aviation safety as what is affordable … safety is something which has the highest priority.  It is not a question of cost.” 

That statement was both dishonest and irresponsible.  Dishonest because you knew (or should have known) that you were responsible for both national and international (ICAO) air safety regulations that are prescribed at quite different levels because of cost and affordability.  You also completely undermined the professionals within the Civil Aviation Safety Authority whose jobs were to perform cost and benefit studies so that the always limited safety resources could be effectively allocated.

Your irresponsible statement also allowed a small group of bureaucrats within CASA to change the reform program; from one directed at harmonising with the best and most efficient proven world practices, to one of increasing red tape and a “one-way ratchet” of more restrictions and complexity regardless of cost.  It is still happening to this day and is the prime reason the Australian General Aviation industry has nearly been destroyed.

As the longest serving Minister responsible for aviation, you have no record of achieving any of the much needed airspace and regulatory reforms.  If you look at your Wikipedia entry or search for your name in Google it is as if you were never responsible or even involved in the multi-billion dollar Australian aviation industry at all.  There is not one entry that lists even one achievement, let alone your support in any way for the much needed reforms.

Fortunately the present Minister responsible for the Aviation portfolio, Michael McCormack has been involved for over two years in a move to get CASA to support the safer NAS policy so that low level controlled airspace can be introduced at Ayers Rock to help prevent a Mangalore type fatal collision.

John, in relation to the Senate, why don’t you support someone new having a go?  Wouldn’t the best contribution you could make to the National Party, and the future of our country, be to seek out the most promising young candidate you can find, and support her for preselection?

Perhaps you could also use your influence to help facilitate the finalisation of the NAS airspace reforms before we have further unnecessary fatalities!

Yours faithfully


Quote:..Fortunately the present Minister responsible for the Aviation portfolio, Michael McCormack has been involved for over two years in a move to get CASA to support the safer NAS policy so that low level controlled airspace can be introduced at Ayers Rock to help prevent a Mangalore type fatal collision...

Hmm...interesting?? But how long will it take for the present Miniscule to actually do anything??  Dodgy

MTF...P2  Tongue

Civil Air take on the Harfwit's One Pie rationalisation??

Via the SMH:

Plan to shift half of Sydney’s air traffic controllers to Melbourne

By Matt O'Sullivan
April 26, 2021 — 5.00am

Aircraft flying through all but a small part of greater Sydney’s airspace would be handled by a control centre in Melbourne under a controversial plan partly aimed at cutting costs by shifting up to half the city’s air traffic controllers to Victoria.

Airservices Australia’s plan to relocate up to 65 air traffic controllers to Melbourne from its terminal control unit at Sydney Airport is contained in internal briefing documents seen by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

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One of Airservices’ justifications for the shift is a need for “more cost-efficient solutions” due to the financial strain on the aviation industry from the COVID-19 pandemic. The federal corporation’s documents say the “transfer of services” to Melbourne will help it “avoid the costs of significant infrastructure replacement” in Sydney.

The building at Sydney Airport where the 65 air-traffic controllers are based is “nearing [the] end of life”, and there is no guarantee the long-term lease on it will be extended when it expires in 2034 because the site is designated for commercial use. It also argues “deeper pools of skilled professionals” are available only at its larger facilities such as those in Melbourne.

The controllers who work in the terminal control unit at Sydney Airport use radar control screens to sequence and separate aircraft in an area stretching from Shellharbour in the south, the Central Coast in the north, Katoomba in the west and out above the Tasman Sea.

The relocation would directly affect 65 of 130 air traffic controllers in Sydney. It would not impact those in the control tower at Sydney Airport who guide aircraft within about seven kilometres of the tarmac. Greater Sydney’s airspace is easily the country’s busiest.

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Civil Air, the union representing air traffic controllers, said it was concerned about the plan and it would be on the agenda of a national executive meeting on Wednesday.

“We have been through this on previous occasions and it has not stood up to scrutiny for various financial, operational and technical issues,” Civil Air executive secretary Peter McGuane said.

An air traffic controller, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said most of those affected in Sydney did not want to relocate.

A major concern is controllers in Melbourne will not be as familiar with Sydney’s geography, which could potentially impact on small aircraft.

“It is not so much the international or domestic aircraft – it is the general aviation community. Those are the scariest emergencies for us because we are dealing with less trained pilots and older aircraft. The knowledge of the controller becomes such a key factor,” the controller said.

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Sydney has up to 650 aircraft movements a day, which is not far off an average of about 850 before the pandemic hit last year.

“Traffic is increasing already and most of the controllers think the window they have targeted [to relocate] has already closed,” the controller said.

The terminal control unit at Sydney Airport also manages aircraft arriving at and departing from Richmond, Bankstown and Camden airports, in concert with the control towers at each of those locations.

Airservices expects to make a final decision in June about the shift, a process which would take about two years to complete.

Airservices confirmed it was in the “initial stages” of consulting staff on the future of the Sydney control unit, adding there would be “no required job losses”.

“The management of terminal area airspace from major air traffic service centres is safe and a model used around the world,” a spokeswoman said.

She said Sydney’sairspace would continue to be managed by specialist controllers with a deep understanding of it. “The only thing that will change is the location of this service,” she said.

Airservices said the investigation into the feasibility of integrating the Sydney unit into the Melbourne air traffic service centre was driven by the pandemic.

“It is also important that Airservices strives to keep air traffic control costs as low as possible to assist the aviation industry’s recovery from COVID-19,” the spokeswoman said.

Over the past two decades, terminal control services for Canberra, Gold Coast, Adelaide and Cairns have been centralised in Melbourne and Brisbane.

MTF...P2  Tongue

Flight 'Service'.

In primus, I acknowledge my complete ignorance on the management of airspace; and have absolutely no idea how the boffins work it out and set up their networks and etc.

However I have worked in it for many a long year – in different countries. There is always a little 'something' which can be a trap for young players, but, by and large the AIP (or similar) usually sorts out any differences noted. Should that fail,then there is usually a helpful soul about who can explain the way things are, thus avoiding embarrassment.

'We' have been following the UP thread relating to Ballina with interest; been some top quality discussion there by folk who have a much better handle on the intricacies than the average bear. Nicely done.

But I wonder if in our rush to 'hi-tech' computerised systems and all the toys we have discarded what I thought was a very good system – just speculating here. Back when we had Flight Service Units and flight plans and position reports we pretty much knew where everyone was, when they would be at a certain position, how high they were and their estimate for the same field as you were headed for. It may have been 'costly' but it was rock solid.

There is a safety case to support a return to some of the past notions. Personalty, the thing which is always a concern at the back of my addled mind is the 'silent minority' i.e. those who say nothing. Three very close calls – serious ones – and a fair number  of 'that could have been nasty' ones, all without any sort of 'notification' - beg the question – are there holes in our famous cheese? 

One of the best 'systems' I've used is the Sydney radar advice to IFR approaching Bankstown from the West; OCTA and accurate traffic information until you enter the Bankstown zone; it works just fine. Could a similar system be provided to Ballina? Or, will the jet traffic ease off when the Gold Coast works are finished? The notion of RPT traffic self separating from 'known' aircraft is IMO problematic; but self separating from 'unknown' traffic  - or non reported traffic is a recipe for trouble. TCAS and all that helps – but it can be costly when a profile has to be 'modified' to avoid conflict. One may operate into a field 50 times without a care in the world, then you arrive one day when the Tupperware is out to play – that's fun. But I digress.

Surely in this day and technological age; we could provide airspace access to VFR and IFR both and provide the basic 'advisory' service the old FSU did; to me it all seemed so simple then – file a plan, tell 'em where you were, and what time you expected to be at Kickatinalong – then you were advised the F27 was due at 00:00 o'clock – tune into the CTAF, have a quick 'sort out' and bingo – instant peace and harmony – mostly.

Air Services seem to be mostly concerned with 'budget' these days and 'tech stuff'. All well and good – but – I say their fundamental purpose is to develop a system which keeps everyone on the same page – late afternoon, rain and cloud, just getting visual and picking your way through the low stuff and showers, wet windscreen etc. – you can't always see enough to  'self separate'. All attention on the task in hand – you may even miss the muffled squawk of the itinerant student trying to call a base turn.

Anyway – just my uneducated two bob's worth on what seems to be a basic, straight forward problem – one of stopping aircraft banging into each other, being bogged down in politics and KPI. My Aunt Pru always said you can't charge for pearls if you're selling pig's ears.

Toot – toot. Yes, yes I know, back in my box right.......

RAOz a voice of reason?  Rolleyes

Via each way Hitch:

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RAAus pushes for National Airspace Strategy
4 May 2021
Comments 0 Comments

Recreational Aviation Australia (RAAus) has called for the government to develop a National Airspace Strategy to ensure all users have equal access to Australian skies.

The call was contained in RAAus' response to Airservices Australia's second proposal to lower the base of Class E on the eastern seaboard, which was submitted last Friday. RAAus has rejected the revised proposal stating that Airservices has still not established a reason for the change.

"The establishment of a National Airspace Strategy would provide a ‘roadmap’ or similar, for government, its agencies and industry, to work towards in assuring that an acceptable level of risk is achieved in relation to airspace design and operational procedures.

"Furthermore, RAAus maintains the firm position that where an airspace risk warrants airspace design changes, that a proven and noncomplex design criterion should be applied wherever possible and that it must–by law–be done in accordance with the 
Australian Airspace Policy Statement (AAPS) and the Airspace Act 2007."

RAAus said a National Airspace Strategy would determine the equipment required for airspace categories well in advance, to enable airspace users to prepare for change and ensure no-one is disadvantaged by "poor planning or an inadequate safety case by government or its agencies."

RAAus recommended also that their members be allowed access to controlled airspace as part of that strategy and also called for a review of the effectiveness of the Australian Strategic Air Traffic Management Group (ASTRA).

In supporting their rejection of the revised proposal that would see the base of Class E lowered from 8500 to either 6500 or 4500 feet AMSL with a minimum terrain clearance of 1360 feet, RAAus stated that some aircraft don't have the panel space to install a transponder as would be required in Class E, and called for Electronic Conspicuity (EC) devices to be a permitted alternative.

The organisation also criticised Airservices for not supplying a valid safety case and accused it of designing airspace to suit its own needs.

"It is the contention of RAAus that this unique and overly complex airspace design proposal will introduce further risk for all airspace users whilst not meeting the requirement to provide equitable use of airspace, as prescribed under the 
Australia Airspace Policy Statement 2018.

"This proposal introduces a clumsy and overly complex design without being clear on the issues it is trying to address.

"It is simply an impractical concept to expect aircraft to climb and descend to remain outside of the Class E based upon a design that aligns with existing ATC sector boundaries, communication and surveillance coverage and terrain, rather than mitigating against specific risks.

"In other words, the design meets the objectives of the designer rather than the user."

The consultation period for the proposal closed last Friday 30 April. More information is on the 
Airservices Australia engagement website.

MTF...P2  Tongue

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