View Full Version : Darwin Radar

Dog One
10th Jul 2007, 10:42
Could some one explain why Brisbane Centre are using procedural control outside 30 miles Darwin. Some months ago, it was explained away that the feed to Brisbane Centre was damaged in the wet season. One would have thought that such a technical problem would have been resolved within 48 hrs.

Lets face it, its 2007, we have the technology, yet we have a international airport with traffic restrictions, costly delays on the ground for operators. Darwin is a proper pain in the bum to operate to. Is this a further indication that Airservices are cutting costs and not providing a service to the industry.

Ndicho Moja
10th Jul 2007, 11:10
"Its 2007, we have the technology...."

And we still use HF for communication and NDBs for navigation. The aviation community has very few problems that money will not fix.

10th Jul 2007, 11:19
... I'll be careful what I say here .. cause' I am not directly in the know .... BUT .. from what I have heard, AsA are not the responsible agency .. nor is this 'brand' of radar one AsA own's :p .. :ooh: ...
... it's in the 'blue' :}
... but then what would I know :E .. so disregard all :} ... I was never here :ok:

10th Jul 2007, 11:56
FROM 06 282346 TO 07 310600 EST

C1449/07 REVIEW C1152/07

Just guessing but this is probably the reason.

Dog One
10th Jul 2007, 12:07
But why isn't the data available?

10th Jul 2007, 12:24
OK boys'n'girls I was up in the air (15th March) when the Radar went down and a trooley awful day it was too. We did a 65 mile diversion to swing around the worst of it and get to HWS for the ILS down too not much. ( mind you there was the usual twit with a deathwish coming in from Bathhurst!) The radar had received a few hits prior to this, but this event was the end of the road for this wet...

Since then we have been graced wiht the Darwin Management Plan!

This often entails 40 mile splits for aircraft on the same track, 3 min delay behind 717 when your'e in a slow turboprop, stepped climbs and descents in 8/8 CAVOK etc etc

We even recieved a questionairre from ATC on how wonderful the system was and if there was in any way it could be improved.( No change that I have noted)

Why as an operating business can't we charge for these unreasonable delays due to lack of servicibility? What charter of service do ATC run by? When will they FIX the BLOODY RADAR connection?:ugh:

10th Jul 2007, 13:24
Just a a brief thought as Im in Blighty getting a rather large injection of Britishness for a bit so wont spend too long dwelling on all things Ozzy. But a radar service may no be available outside 30/40 miles as the mil controllers are not Area qualified. I think you can only control so far with an approach rating. May be a complete red herring though as I think we controlled out to 50nms at ESL.

Despite the weather its good to be back this way ; so for all those that cant afford the beer or park - stop moaning.:E


10th Jul 2007, 22:04
blame the RAAF, it's their radar and it's not up to scratch. Darwin is not on its patma, the ESL radar was showing paints displaced by...well a fair distance...compared to the other feeds.

From the NT RAPAC meeting 27 June...
WGCDR Barbara Courtney, RAAF, responded to the issue advising the problem primarily exists with Airservices no longer taking the feed from Darwin RADAR. The reason for Airservices declining the feed is that they have experienced track drops and therefore consider it unreliable. Airservices are investigating why it is occurring, but until a solution is found they will not utilise the data. Prior to the problem arising Brisbane Centre would use the Darwin feed as an additional work tool. Now that they do not have the tool available their workload has increased, thus causing some delays to pilots.
Barbara further explained Darwin does not have an issue with the RADAR feed however they are investigating if the problem lies with the RAAF equipment. Until the issue can be resolved pilots may continue to experience some delays.

No Further Requirements
10th Jul 2007, 22:40
A little disappointing that the RAAF has let it get to this stage. I can understand the ESL one being a bit off, piece of [email protected]#p Alenia, but the newer ones, like Darwin, Willytown, Townsville etc are pretty new. Hopefully the delays being experienced by industry will result in complaints and the action.

Please don't blame the ATCers - they are playing the cards that they have been dealt. They hate the situation as much as the aircrew.

BurglarsDog: All RAAF ATC are area/arrivals trained. They just don't have any of that airspace left. Darwin used to own out to 60NM, but post NAS they pulled it into 30NM. Something to do with administrating Class E airspace I think.



Dog One
10th Jul 2007, 22:47
Well, I am glad that the problem has been identified, its only taken 3 or 4 months. Will it be fixed before the wet season? At the present rate of progress, it would appear that nothing will be resolved.

Airservices were very quick off the mark some years ago, in putting radar into YMLT after the 737 near miss, but some where along the line they have dropped the ball.

Is this a case of either party not wanting to spend their budget resources on another departments problem, even though there is safety implications.

Do we have to wait until the NT News headlines sensationalise the problem?

Are the RAAF/Airservices admitting that they cannot rectify the fault through lack of technical skills?

Are Airservices providing value for the money that operators pay for en route charges? Do the operators get a refund for non availability of the advertised radar services.

Do we have to wait until the election is announced for ministerial intervention?

11th Jul 2007, 00:09
It is a dogs breakfast and don't expect the RAAF to move in a hurry.

I am aware of at least 1 TCAS RA, last week, that would have been avoided if the radar was serviceable. Let me add it was through no fault of ATC.

11th Jul 2007, 02:52
At least we don't have to fly those ridiculous STARs. All we need now is to be able to plan AS-A461-DN and we can save more fuel and time.

11th Jul 2007, 03:00
then turn into CTAF and we have progress.:ok:

11th Jul 2007, 04:29
The darwin radar used by the RAAF is still in use by the RAAF but not by Civil. The feed still comes into Brisbane and is displayable but not allowed to be used for separation. I hear we are looking at next wet season before anything happens. If it does not get fixed, when the RAAF come to Brisbane to do the job from there, they will not be able to use it.

I am surprised that some pole climber somewhere in AsA has not just signed off on the thing for operational use like usually happens. The 'management' of the civil group around Darwin is littered with s0ft c0cks so don't expect anything to happen suddenly to change the current issues.

Victor India
11th Jul 2007, 11:54
on a related topic...

I recently enquired why intersection departure data isn't available in the RDS section of the ERSA for Darwin. The response was something to do with a lack of movement area guidance signs (taxiway signs). Some inability for the aerodrome owner and the RAAF to agree on the project of installing these. Until then, we just need to guess the distance... (well no - tower have the figures :ugh: )


11th Jul 2007, 15:23
The perceived radar "outage" might be being used as a cost motivator (read political means) to push ahead further ADSB installations in DN and TN... (which I believe the RAAF have recently agreed to). The whole ASA ADSB network will 'probably' roll out fully operational within 12 months, so now is the time to have the relevant antennae installed... Radars cost lots and lots of $$ to replace and maintain (besides they are really used by the CIA to manipulate neural thought patterns and track consumption habits - procedural controllers always wore hemp jeans for some reason...?). So if industry can rapidly equip with ADSB transponders, and 'fund' this new technology, then theoretically more savings and biscuits for all !!! (or ASA exec pensions at least !!). If you think the problem remains 'technical' - think again. Somewhere in this world, for sure some Macquarie investment banker (whilst deciding on his aviation expansion portfolio) is slowly becoming convinced that 'radar' is old and ADSB will solve the World's problems : massive cost reductions in equipment, staffing, manufacture and distribution - with the USA, China, and India the holy grail of consumers of this wholly "patented" technology. Hey just look at the problems with Darwin... (read international aerodrome to justify interest, but not international enough to risk a major catastrophe...and note the RAAF have a totally different insurance structure than ASA). Any other capital city radar problem like this would have been fixed, yes, immediately within 48 hrs... The waters are simply being tested, and Australia as usual is the convenient high-tech, but low volume, low-risk test bed... Ciao !!

13th Jul 2007, 11:50
Facts are important.

The radar is a good radar, it's a Raytheon system and it is of world standard that reaches or exceeds the Thales product. The specs achieve RAAF standards and the radar is for RAAF ATC at Darwin and Tindal. It is not designed as a free service for AsA purposes. The interface with the AsA system is an AsA problem for AsA to fix and maintain. If the specs do not match then this is an AsA problem not a RAAF problem.

Airspace management is not so much a political matter but more a commercial aspect. If AsA increases airspace and enables increased charges and gets increased defence dollars for improving/upgrading infrastructure by providing services that defence was providing (free) then AsA commercial profit is synthetically improved.

Bonuses are connected to profit.

Merely by moving tax dollars from one organisation to another. Airspace management is being marketed by AsA to the politicians as "in the National interest". The future will be the judge.

The success of Darwin, Darwin radar service and RAAF traffic management is anathema to this plan by AsA.

ADS-B will support en-route traffic but will not replace Primary radar at capital cities and certainly not in NortherniAustralia foribovious safety and defence reasons. ADS-B is a dependant system andwillthereforent pick up non-transponder aircraft such as VCA's

The Darwin airspace, as with much airspace and traffic managed by RAAF ATC is specialised and quite different to that being controlled by civilian ATC. Local Darwin traffic have long considered that Darwin is just an N.T. bush strip where if they lose 2 minutes on a trip out goes the profit; and often this is true. But Darwin provides a service to more than just the parochial local traffic. Darwin is a one of the most diverse, complex and busiest international aerodromes per controller in the country during a military exercise. Darwin traffic management strategies must accommodate a variance that often needs an ability to increase to a high-workload-tactical methodology at short notice. RAAF ATC are skilled at tactical control and skilled at managing and prioritising multiple Mayday and Pan emergencies from civilian and military aircraft in exceptionally busy environments. Civilian ATC does not have such variance, steepness of workload peaks and troughs. Civilian-only traffic is generally and easily programmed and predictable.

The MAG signs at Darwin have for too many years been a vexatious issue between Defence and the Airport owner. Someone needs to bite the bullet and come to a funding-sharing agreement to pay for the damned things.

The context of these and other variables are important in order to understand the full implications of the commercial and operational landscape. There's more and pehaps others may wish to elaborate.

I am not an ADF controller. Have a fabulous day.

14th Jul 2007, 11:27
coral ... pissa :} :E RAAF ATC are skilled at tactical control and skilled at managing and prioritising multiple Mayday and Pan emergencies from civilian and military aircraft in exceptionally busy environments. Civilian ATC does not have such variance, steepness of workload peaks and troughs. Civilian-only traffic is generally and easily programmed and predictable. ... yeh right sport
... having worked with some of the ex-blue shirt colleagues .... (who arrived in the real world spruking the same DN garbage) .... mate .. ewe's is joking!
.. that should fire em up :E

14th Jul 2007, 11:30
Did I miss anything?

I think you missed the bit where taxpayers and the RAAF fund AsA...

14th Jul 2007, 12:34
Defensive or denial?

There's not many places I have seen that need to prioritise multiple Maydays and Pans and also sort the normal daily civilian traffic with forty or fifty min fuel, fast-jet and heavy jet multi-national military returning, (Townville sometimes too). Perhaps there are civilian locations that are similar and maybe this is your special place Coral; no doubt you are very good at controlling such traffic complexities. See you in sandy places one day perhaps.

I know of a few Australian civilian locations that do have some rather special challenges but they are not the high profile sausage factories with impressive levels of human capability. West radar, Janders, Bankstown and Tops come to mind and then Albury or Cairns on a good day; no doubt others I haven't seen or worked. There's certainly a component of tactical control at these places.

Prior to the muddy bits, my original point was that there are reasons why radar is not being used by AsA in the Northern Territory.

14th Jul 2007, 18:29
Whatever you've been inhaling, drinking or injecting there 44 Wing you should stop because it is making you delusional!! Multiple PANs and Maydays - yeah right!!! And before you get on your high horse - I worked there and I worked there when it was at its busiest!!! Complex; yeah occasionally but generally only when there was multiple fighter recoveries (during Exercise periods) that wanted individual instrument approaches no MARSA (Why.... because they could) and during the vagaries of the wet season when there were big diversions going on due to WX. The Darwin TMP makes no sense since traffic levels have dwindled over the years..... could it be that the TMP was implemented to guard against the possibility of radar failure? This all singing, all dancing radar that you spruke has had reliability issues over the years due to high heat and humidity, any wonder that AsA don't use the feed if it has proven to be unreliable in the past. Could it be that the RAAF don't want anyone to use their bat and ball because AsA are picking the best players for their team? If you are not an ADF controller 44 Wing, then why be an apologist for that corporation unless you are of course the mouthpiece for 44 Wing!!
For everyone else following this don't jump on the people at the coalface as they are just doing what they are told to do, fortunately for them now there is an alternative to life in blue and they are being actively sought. As a DN SATCO once said to me as I was nearing the end "If you don't like what you are being told to do, then don't be a hypocrite and continue to take the paycheck; resign!!" I DID!!!!

Dog One
15th Jul 2007, 00:50
Mean while, the wet season is approaching and we have Class A airspace without radar coverage, procedural departures out of a International airport causing increased costs to the industry, and Airservices throwing bricks at the RAAF, and the RAAF throwing them back at Airservices.

This whole matter should have been resolved within a few days. Its time Minister Vaile got off his backside and fixed it.

15th Jul 2007, 04:17
Hempy - I take issue with you there. ASA is not funded by taxpayers, it is funded by airspace users - ...except of course the RAAF (including the Lib/Nat Air Taxi Service - VIP SQN) - they pay nothing.

coral, that isn't my assertion, I was pointing out the inference made by 44Wing when he(?) wrote

AsA...gets increased defence dollars for improving/upgrading infrastructure by providing services that defence was providing (free)


Merely by moving tax dollars from one organisation to another

I am well aware how Airservices makes their cash, I also remember when ASA was a "Public Service" as opposed to a "Government Business Enterprise". Commercialisation, anyone?

Track Coastal
16th Jul 2007, 04:43
What are you smoking (from reading your post on page 1)? There are ex RAAF DN ATC all over the place and I've never heard stuff like your spruiking - too many motivational speeched from WLM methinks. The Pitch Black recoveries were always a frigging strategically mismanaged air show and most if not all of that talent which tactically prevented the aluminium welding (back when DN used to move over 110K pa - now reduced to 80K in 06/07) is with the civil provider in Australia and OS. Celeritas' post (5 above) encapsulates it all quite nicely for all the ex-ADF and DN people I've met.

RAAF DN used to do arrivals outside 30 miles (after years of App doing both on one frequency after ASA left the bulding - looking back at that 0-50 miles era wasn't that a mismanaged bunch of egocentric bollocks!) so give it back to them!

rack 'n stack
16th Jul 2007, 11:19
Dudes - chill.

I have heard that the problem with the RAAF radar feeds is caused by ASA insisting on dual paths (read redundancy - I cant wait!) and the RAAF only having single path. Hence the stand off.

Many dollars required to get the Raytheon data gatherer to talk in the same language as the Thales interpreter!

Dog One
25th Jul 2007, 10:51
So, will we have radar coverage before the wet season, or will we still watching ASA and the RAAF have a battle of words. What are RAPAC's views of this?

26th Jul 2007, 06:18
There seems to be a lot of gripes on here reference ATC, my ideal solution would be to have ACO's (GCI by trade) running all the airspace in Australia as we are the tactical wizard's of the airspace game.

My thoughts only.


26th Jul 2007, 06:44
I had a very long experience inside the RAAF before moving on. I think I know who will be dragging their heels on this one........and I also doubt they'll care.

26th Jul 2007, 07:21
cheesyeye - BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!:p

Nice one! There are two airfields in this country that spring to mind with somewhat ordinary controlling. One could be forgiven as it is a training center. I'll let you guess what the other one is!:}

26th Jul 2007, 08:27
Wouldn't want SATC failures running a tower...you ACO's keep the aircraft too close to one another......Fly high now Gooses...:ugh: