View Full Version : Joint civilian and miltary airspace planned for Australia

15th Sep 2009, 03:01
About time too - I have never seen such a waste of perfectly good airspace anywhere in the world , as the MASSIVE military airspace allocations in Australia.

Military to lose airspace in $300m savings push

EXCLUSIVE: Cameron Stewart and Steve Creedy | September 15, 2009

Article from: The Australian (http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/)
THE Rudd government is seeking to save more than $300 million by merging the nation's civil and military air traffic control systems.
The move would create a unified national air traffic control system for the first time, ending the wasteful separation of the systems and providing the government with a much-needed revenue boost.
The Finance Department has recently been briefed by a joint working group about the possible cost savings of a merged air traffic control system, with a final decision expected to be made early next year.
Transport Minister Anthony Albanese last night confirmed that plans for a merged system were "progressing", but declined to provide details.
A special working group comprising Defence and the government air traffic control manager, Airservices Australia, is working on proposals to unify the two systems.
Attempts to merge the systems in previous years have stalled because Defence feared it would lose tactical and strategic control of its aircraft in times of crisis.
News of the unification came as Virgin Blue signalled it would complain to the federal government about air traffic control delays that forced it to cancel flights and accommodate people in hotels on Sunday after three controllers called in sick.
The unification would remove the historical distinction that has air force air traffic controllers directing military aircraft and civilian controllers directing commercial jets, sometimes from the same airport.
Australia developed separate civil and military air traffic management systems because it was considered necessary to meet the separate specific requirements of civil and military flying.
Defence now has an ageing air traffic system that will soon need replacing at substantial cost, opening the way for cost efficiencies if it adopts the civil system used by Airservices.
Defence has also struggled to retain its air traffic controllers, and last year the government announced a $6m emergency package to prevent RAAF air traffic controllers from being poached by the private sector. In 2005, the RAAF and Airservices set up a program called Genesis to integrate military air traffic control into the civil system, but the plan stalled because of Defence's reservations.
However, in 2002 a Defence document signed by current Australian Defence Force chief Angus Houston stated: "Australia simply cannot justify, sustain or afford to continue operating two almost identical air traffic management systems."
Civil and military systems are merged in many countries, including Britain and Germany.
Virgin Blue is planning to complain to the federal government about air traffic control delays that forced it to cancel flights and accommodate people in hotels on the weekend.
It took airlines until yesterday to get back on schedule as they grappled with the flow-on from delays caused when three air traffic controllers called in sick on Sunday afternoon.
Virgin, which is already seeking $500,000 in compensation for air traffic-related delays suffered during shortages and an industrial dispute last year, last night could not say how much the delays had cost but said it would raise the issue with the government.
"We are still assessing costs relating to the full impact on our operations on Sunday, which include delays causing extra fuel burn, cancellations both in Sydney and other ports due to flow-on effects, and overnight hotel accommodation for stranded guests as well as crews," it said.
"It is certainly disappointing to have this happen yet again when we believed that such issues had been addressed and we were past them."
The loss of the three approach air traffic controllers forced Airservices to more than halve the number of aircraft movements at Sydney from 50 to 22.
Air traffic controllers have warned that the continuing shortage of staff means the problems that caused the delays could happen again.
Civil Air executive secretary Peter McGuane said the number of air traffic controllers retiring and moving overseas meant there was still a shortage of controllers.
"This shortage has plagued air traffic control for some time, and we've got to accept that until that situation is resolved, this will occasionally occur," he said.
Airservices Australia said the breakdown was an anomaly, and denied the organisation was still understaffed. Spokesman Rob Walker said the air navigation provider had an operational requirement for 889 staff and had 908 currently available and 960 on the books. It also had 33 trainees in the final stages of training.
Mr Walker said Airservices had been unable to find other controllers who could cover for the sick staff. He said there were generally six people working on approach control, and to have three sick at once was unusual.

15th Sep 2009, 07:26
It won't have anything to do with the airspace itself - it is all about the system used by controllers. The same restricted airspace will still be in place - it will just be controlled by Air Force controllers in Melbourne or Brisbane Centre using AsA's system. They will still wear blue (presumably, as the controllers are one of the most deployed streams) but will not be on base and will not use ADATS (lucky for them!)

Think of how Pearce approach is done from the approach cell for Perth airport - same building, same system used by Pearce and Perth Approach, just the RAAF have one side of the room to themselves.

There have been proposals mooted to roll all the controllers into the AsA workforce but RAAF don't want that as will cost too much and won't work with super, officer pay structure, etc. Plus, the way AsA works, within 6 months the RAAF TCUs would be unmanned and those controllers would be filling the holes in the rest of AsA's rosters.

If you don't like the MASSIVE military airspace reservations, convince defence to put all the fast jets at the one base and move Pearce a million miles away from Perth. That would help immensely!

15th Sep 2009, 09:03
Boing bender; read the article. It confuses several issues, and I suspect is merely a way for AsA management to muddy the waters as to why there are still ATC delays, as they can no longer blame "an industrial campaign". Note in the article that "an industrial campaign" is blamed for delays that occurred last year, yet the same delays are still occurring.

Clear thinking people!!

Maybe, just maybe, the delays were caused by drum roll.... a staff shortage..........

How AsA arrives at the staffing numbers is an interesting exercise. In a service critical environment, if you need say, ten staff, and you have ten staff, then if even one of them is sick/dies/retires/wants to go on holidays/cannot attend work for ANY reason (millions of reasons), then the service isn't provided. Pretty STUPID way to run a critical service. But I digress.
Just because RAAF cant staff their ATC service, doesn't mean a merger will help. Certainly, the ratio of chiefs to indians won't improve. I can't see a single mention of airspace reservations opening up.

18th Sep 2009, 08:22
I am really surprised this has not got more attention.

Firstly, because if (and bl-----y big if) it was done right, there could be a major rationalization of military airspace boundaries, to the very great benefit of just about every sector of civil aviation ----- without ANY REAL impact on military training.

The amount of mil. airspace in Australia is absurd.

One study, some time ago, showed that there was more mil. restricted airspace around Nowra/Richmond/Willi. than the whole of the US. But let's not dwell on the US, have a close scrute of NATO restricted airspace, it is minuscule, compared to Australia.

The savings of the proposal are not limited to staff/equipment rationalization, my guess is that saving to industry could well exceed the direct savings to AsA/Defence.

But don't hold your breath, I have lost count of the number of times something like this has been "agreed", in the last 20 years, ain't happened yet. Defence is just as moribund as AsA on this sort of thing.

Tootle pip!!

Shot Nancy
18th Sep 2009, 09:00
I have never seen such a waste of perfectly good airspace anywhere in the world , as the MASSIVE military airspace allocations in Australia
Just because you haven't seen it doesn't mean it isn't out there. Go to China for example.

I perceive a bit of military bashing here. Take the Nowra issue. I thought the RAN restricted areas off Nowra were required for their live firing and operational training. I also thought that the Nowra areas were released when not in use. Why do you want to be flying 100 miles East of Nowra anyhow? Who is going to pay to move RAAF Pearce?

One study, some time ago, showed that there was more mil. restricted airspace around Nowra/Richmond/Willi. than the whole of the US
I would say a selective study. Some exercises out of Hawaii when a large military force is involved NOTAM an area of high seas bigger than Texas. Oh but that is international water/airspace, not US eh?

I am all for the efficient use of what we have but one needs to be careful as once an airfield or arty range or piece of airspace is taken from the military it rarely goes back, transit times go up and less time on task usually results.
Dont start me on the people that move to near an artillery range that was Gazetted in the early 1900s then complain about the noise.

18th Sep 2009, 09:42
Just because you haven't seen it doesn't mean it isn't out there. Go to China for example.
Well, China is not really the country we like to compare ourselves with in matters like this though, is it?
And BTW - I have operated commercially as a pilot on all 7 continents continuously for the last 25 years, so I have a reasonably broad outlook on these matters. So let me rephrase it: compared to any other known Western-style democracy, we are in a class of our own with regard to the amount of airspace we find it necessary to set aside for military purposes. And what is worse - even when the weather is crappy around Sydney, forcing extensive delays and holding, the military refuses to de-activate the airspace to allow for expedient civilian traffic in and out of our largest city. It is infuriating and this area is over-ripe for reform. But as others have pointed out elsewhere on this thread, I remain skeptical that anything will come out of it. We can only apply pressure and hope that sanity will return.

18th Sep 2009, 10:32
From experience in WA I would guess that the percentage of the Pearce R areas actually used for flying training is about one tenth of what becomes active.

The real reason so much airspace is gazetted is because defence dont want FUA. More importantly RAAF flying dont want FUA cause they might have to follw the rules of the air!! Continuous listening watch, take ATC instructions and act on them etc etc. The west coast airspace is almost exclusively for 60 PC9s and about 160,000 movements a year. Compare that with the JT training area and the JT CTR with over 340,000 per year and you start to see the attitudes of defence and RAAF.

20th Sep 2009, 09:24
I love these threads. One goose writes an article, that covers five or so different issues, and people jump on claming to be experts about everything.

I really love the clowns out there who believe they know all about Defence and how it runs, or how it should be run but have never served a day in our armed forces.

I particularly love it when civil pilots dribble on about Military flying training. Thats very funny stuff !!!

Genesis, IOC whatever you want to call it will raise its head every once in a while but ASA won't be taking over any Mil places just yet.

ASA and Defence have already been discussing a common ATC machine down the track when both systems need to be replaced, but I wouldn't be holding my breath. The current stuff will around for a few more years to come.

Do you really think things are going to change rapidly ?
Wheres the money coming from to pay for all this restructure?

20th Sep 2009, 14:10
I agree, but it will probably sound good at the next Senate Estimates Committee...