View Full Version : Getting ripped off when flying in Avalon airspace

6th Oct 2002, 09:03
The local flying school where I hang out recently received a bill from AVDATA for a school C150 that was practicing forced landings and general student practice inside Avalon MBZ - in fact about four miles away from the actual aerodrome. They had made a standard MBZ radio call saying that they were operating in the MBZ. ATC was not manned at the time.

On another occasion a IFR Seminole reported on the MBZ frequency that they were carrying out airwork within the MBZ. The aircraft was practicing ADF basic tracking using Ripley NDB. The AV ILS was not on the air at the time. Again AVDAT hit the aircraft owner with a bill for "Training".

Surely this is sheer bastardry and extortion? What happens if you happen to be transiting Avalon airspace on a cross-country flight which requires an MBZ radio call?

I can understand (and reluctantly accept) that Avalon can charge for use if its ILS if it is radiating. But to charge people for flying through the airspace while carrying out general training practice (stalls, steep turns, PFL etc) is surely illegal. Calls to AVDATA made no impression. Someone at Avalon had sent the bill and its a case of pay up or wear trouble.

Appreciate comments - and have any other Melbourne flying operators struck the same chicanery? And do you pay up and shut up about it and merely add it on to the students bill?

7th Oct 2002, 00:32
Further to my first post. Inquiries reveal that pilots are also being charged for a GPS NPA at Avalon. The rationale being that as the owners of Avalon airport had to pay for the design and implementaion of the GPS NPA then they want their money back via charges to users. The advice received was that be careful of the actual words used when transmitting on the Avalon MBZ frequency. Mention any navaids or position from the navaid then you are gone a million.

I can now understand why some pilots elect not to reveal their presence in a MBZ such as Avalon. If a VFR flight is being hit with charges just for being in the area then no wonder the word is to keep mum. It seems that whoever listens to the tape in the tower can place their own interpretation on the radio call content. There appears little attempt by operators using that airspace to take the matter up at higher level. Why worry? Simply hit the student in the hip pocket and he then becomes the owner of the problem - not the flying school.

7th Oct 2002, 02:31
This sort of thing occurs regularly around Australia.

The solution for some appears to be:

A) Make no radio calls.:(

B) Use some callsign other than your own.

C) Transmit as "Red & White Cessna"

Lots of aircraft owners get bills for landings at airfields on the other side of the country, to which the aircraft demonstrably has not been. Which then requires time and effort correcting Avdata. Basically it is a flawed system, always has been, always will be.

Even some country councils which own airstrips with an Airservices owned NDB have been known to try charging for aerial work conducted on "their" aid, I saw the invoice.:rolleyes:

the wizard of auz
7th Oct 2002, 11:09
Happens all the time. I have been charged for Taxi, over flying, several landings instead of one and all the rest and it seems that when you ring to complain they tell you they will adjust the account......then send you an overdue notice without adjusting **** all.

8th Oct 2002, 06:28
Inquiries to Air Services Australia reveal that the Avalon GPS NPA design and implementation was never charged to Avalon and was a free service. Therefore it seems that someone is getting ripped off - like the pilots who are being charged by Avalon for using the GPS approach.

ASA advise that they (ASA) own the Avalon VOR and both Locators Ripley and Avalon. They do not charge for their use so why is Avalon hitting people for all instrument approach charges except for the ILS which they do own?

On the face of it all, looks like Avalon is pocketing money for the use of radio aids they do not own?

8th Oct 2002, 07:28

You will find that Avalon Airport charges for all approaches made to its runway. This includes ILS, GPS missed approaches, overshoots etc. Each individual approach made will be chaged at half the price of the landing fee.

Some training companies have estbalished an contract agreement with Avalon Airport so that they do not incur multiple landing fees whilst using Avalon.

You are correct that Airservices Australia own the VOR and NDB's servicing Avalon however this is currently changing which is why the airport is charging for their use.

Skip Fulton

I Fly
8th Oct 2002, 12:51
I suggest you ask the airport owner up to what level they bought the air as well. I asked the question of Canberra and they told me they did not. So I told them I would not pay for what they had not bought. They have accepted that. I think they are just trying it on. A lot of people just pay without checking the bill. It would be interesting to see what justification they would give a Judge.

9th Oct 2002, 00:12
Thanks for replies and info. As I Fly states: "A lot of people just pay without checking the bill".

I agree. But in addition there is also an air of resignation from many operators who see as all too hard to argue the toss with Avdata or the airfield operator. It is all too easy to pass the charges on to the students (and fare paying charter passengers) who haven't a real clue what it's all about.

In view of the fact that some pilots deliberately appear to avoid transmitting their position in an MBZ/CTAF in order to avoid perceived unfair charges - or even transmit wrong call-signs - then I would have thought this would have been a good opportunity for ATSB and/or CASA to investigate the validity of these charges, such as those levied by Avalon, in order to get to the bottom of why pilots choose to risk potential collisions in this type of airspace.

Few operators can afford to hire lawyers to fight perceived unfair or illegal charges, whereas aircraft passengers are entitled to expect a safe journey un-worried by their pilot avoiding making mandatory radio calls to minimize charges.

Both CASA and ATSB are charged with safety responsibilities and both have the financial and legal clout to look into the charging policies of airport operators. It would be nice to see that happen but few pilots will hold their breath on that one.

9th Oct 2002, 09:28
Basically it goes like this.

Whoever owns the aid can charge for it. So Avalon can charge for the ILS.

Avalon DO NOT own GPS. GPS is a network of satellites owned by US DoD and licenced in Australia to Aust DoD. Avalon have no legal right whatsoever to charge for that aid. Their argument that they developed the approach is flawed, the pilot concerned paid for that when buying the DAPS and now owns that.

So just don't pay those bills.

As for the NDBs, hmmm. I would have thought charging for those would encourage non-radio aircraft movements and so those charges should be abandoned on safety grounds.

Islander Jock
9th Oct 2002, 10:51
Oh well,

I guess we'll just wait to get the invoices for our Jandakot based PA28 / 38s doing instrument approaches into Avalon. ;)

Good point ULM about the airspace above Avalon. The question goes begging though. When and if they do eventually own the aid, at what point do they start charging?
Transiting o/head the aid
AWK on the aid
Approaches on the aid not resulting in a landing
Hey, how about when using the aid for abeam position fixing? .:D

There is a country town east of Perth who tried the same stunt with the NDB on their field. Until it was pointed out that they owned neither the NDB nor the airspace above.

Feather #3
9th Oct 2002, 11:08
Back in the '90's [never thought I'd write something like that!], we worked out that with the landing fees for touch'n'go's at YMAV, I could exceed the direct operating cost per hour for a B747 in 'landing fees' alone!

My employer took steps in another direction which went close [?] to a Ministerial, but they got the message and are now competitive [for Jumbo's !:rolleyes: ]. However, maybe another wakeup call is needed?

G'day ;)

10th Oct 2002, 09:47
They gotta prove you were using their aid. I thought we all used GPS to a position on the field to practise our NDB approaches ;)

See what I mean.

Like I said. Just dont pay!!!!

But be fair, they provide the service, so pay when you use it. That is when you land. Other than that, they have no proof you used thier facilities whatsoever.

Ah, GinGin wasn't it. Tried to charge for airspace. [email protected]@dy idiots!!! :D

10th Oct 2002, 13:52
A few months back we were getting landing and parking charges at Canberra airport, even though we were only conducting PILS and not actually landing. One bill was reduced for several thousand $$ to a few hundred. It seems the paperwork from the guys in the tower was not clear enough.

At one stage they were threatening to revoke our landing rights at CB if we didnt pay up. What a joke. My boss told then politely to get stuffed.

Chimbu chuckles
12th Oct 2002, 16:12
Guys as I've been mostly operating OS for the last many years a question!

Shortly I'll have my Bonanza back in the air and will be doing a bit of flying up and down the east coast. What will I be charged VFR/IFR if I'm transiting and wish to do so in Class C airspace part of the way?

Back in about 84 I did a private VFR flight in a C172RG from BK to Great Keppel and back and tracked overhead BN at 9000', from memory, on the way to our first O/N at Maryborough. Cost nothing!

And that was literally the last time I've flown a single engine aircraft further than a local training area jolly in a Tiger Moth or a few hours around Darwin in my Bonanza between when I first bought it and going to Singapore in 2000:(

If I want to fly YRED to Mittagong, where dad lives, and sit up nice and high on an ATC clearance thereby avoiding dicking around in the weeds and turbulence what will I be charged VFR/ IFR? and where do I find that info?

I personally don't think watching my dot fly for 450nm at 6000 or 8000', giving me a couple of freq changes and issueing me with a clearance to leave CTA on descent Mittagong is worth very much!!!

When I was learning to fly at BK back in the early 80s we were positively encouraged to climb up high with a clearance.

I guess affordable safety means they want us all below 3000' squeezing around between various control zones and the terrain...thanks Mr Smith:mad:


12th Oct 2002, 22:41
Chimbu, you're only likely to pay

( i ) enroute nav charges for each I/F sector, based on tonnes/nautical mile if you plan IFR. If you cancel IFR in flight you will be charged for the sectors or part of the sectors you operated IFR in.

( ii ) Terminal nav charges for the transit of each terminal area you transit, in your case YBBN and maybe YSTW.

These charges are levied and administered by Air Services Australia and are reasonable.

HOWEVER, there is a greedy predator out there called Avdata.

Avdata is NOT a government body, it is a (parasitic) company formed by some former flight service officers (made redundant) and they rort local government owner/operators of aerodromes and aircraft operators.

This organisation illegally records radio transmissions,
( it is a federal offence to record phone or radio transmissions without advising the purpose and seeking consent of the party concerned) then they generate invoices to the registered aircraft owner, extort the money from that owner, then pay an undisclosed amount to the aerodrome operator.

The amount retained by Avdata would usually be more than sufficient for the aerodrome owner to employ a local to count and record those that land.

So yes, there are significant numbers of aircraft operating no-radio to avoid the extortionate fees ( try $50 for most taxpayer funded Aboriginal community airstrips).

Avdata record MBZ, CTAF and area frequencies, trawling for revenue from the illegal recording of radio transmissions and causing a safety problem by making some pilots feeling the need to operate in Stealth Mode to avoid being hit for 5 landings at $50 each at an aerodrome usually maintained and subsidised at taxpayers expense.

A pox on these parasites, (and on CASA, ASA, AOPA etc for not challenging) this extortionate threat to safety .

Chimbu chuckles
13th Oct 2002, 01:29
Thanks Mainframe,

While there's no way I'll not make appropriate radio calls when I'm coming into somewhere for a landing I might just be "A white Bonanza joining crosswind for runway xx":D

The peeps at Mittagong charge $5 for a single to land...perfectly reasonable and unchanged since last I landed there in the early 80s in a C152.

What is reasonable IFR enroute/terminal charges and will I find the info on the ASA website? I suppose I'll go and have a troll around the ASA website. On the charts looks like I'll be transitting YBBN, YSTW(although I may be able to slide past that one), YRIC and then either descend into the BK/CN training areas:eek: or sit up high in SY airspace until past abeam the drop zone at Wilton.


compressor stall
13th Oct 2002, 05:53

WRT nav charges, if any portion of the sector is IFR, then the entire sector is charged as if it were IFR.

EG, proceed VFR for 250 nm, then upgrade to IFR for the last 50nm as the conditions deteriorate around the CTR, then you are charged 250nm of NAV charges.

13th Oct 2002, 09:42
mainframe did a google search a number of days ago on Avdata. Only thing on their website is another way of ripping stocktruck drivers off for washing their trucks of the excriment of their clients precious load. A further search showed this name popping up in a number of council minutes records. A couple showed the breakdown of what this company charges. The main one they push is to rent all the facilities for about $3500 per annum plus a 7% service fee of all charges recorded. The other way is to buy the equipment outright for about $4200 then pay for the rent on dedicated phone line for Avdata to use on your behalf. Then they charge 10% of all charges recorded. How the machine works is it records all transmissions within the area, these transmissions are then periodically downloaded to a central facility where invoices are created from the recordings. Charges are collected and forwarded onto the respective councils less a service fee. Realy great for the Woop-Woop shire who gets a plane a month if they are lucky. If this is multiplied by even a small number of fields it represents big bickies for Avdata.

Hopefully this link will help. The charges are tabulated on page 506.

13th Oct 2002, 12:07
Chimbu The ASA charges are reasonable compared to Avdata. The ASA website is the place to determine this, and a discount can be prearranged, "the Light Aircraft Option" by an owner or operator.

Compressor ( i ) A sector is IFR waypoint to IFR waypoint, NOT the entire trip, e.g. YSSY to YBIK might be flown IFR, then the remainder to YSCB flown vfr. Charges apply to the Sector ( YSSY-YBIK) flown IFR. If it was necessary to continue IFR from YBIK for a little while then change to VFR, charges would apply from YBIK to the next IFR waypoint before reverting to VFR.

And please, IFR IS NOT an UPGRADE, VFR is NOT a downgrade, it is a change of category to a different set of flight rules.

Should you use the terminology of "Upgrade" or "Downgrade" and have an incident, your insurer has a problem that you have introduced and one which the opposing barrister will exploit.

Both sets of Flight Rules guarantee a standard of safety IF they are complied with.

IFR has a higher requirement for communication but is not implicitly safer, as the accident statistics testify.

In fact the statistics confirm that illegally combining VFR with IFR, or IFR with VFR usually results in fatalities

Ozbusdriver It definitely appears that Avdata is parasitic and can influence Local government employees.

Invariably the aerodrome you use was paid for by you, the taxpayer, then upgraded and handed to a local government entity who was given a cash incentive to accept it.

The current owner invariably has spent a minimum on it for maintenance but charges (at Avdata's suggestion) an amount that is disproportionate to your use but vital for Avdata's parasitic survival.

None of these local councils would have the balls to charge motorists a per weight charge on the same scale as they do aircraft for the use of hundreds of kilometres of local government roads, yet for the ONE kilometre of often unsealed and unmaintained runway everything is somehow different.

An outback town is dependant on it's airport for airmail, newspapers, it's local council employees fly in and out at ratepayers expense, it provides the ability for the RFDS to apply it's "mantle of safety" and it is an essential and vital part of the towns infrastructure.

In comes Avdata and their deal to extort. And they are dealing with a sector of the public service with the highest incidence of proven misconduct and fraud.

13th Oct 2002, 13:06
It is worthy to note that this particular council voted 12/0 against the proposal to apply a charge.:)

13th Oct 2002, 13:42
It was suggested the other day in a well known publication that nobody should pay Avdata. What a top idea!

If the account is small, which many are, you are better off sending your cheque direct to the council. If you choose to ignore it then trash the bill.

There was a council in northern NSW that charged thru Avdata and a flying group had a flyin there. The council would not give a concession. Income from the landing charges was around $150 and the group put about $7000 into the town over the weekend. A subsequent media and newspaper letters etc campaign had the council remove the charge for private ops.

When they put a boom gate on the road into town, it might then be fair, until then it is discrimination in its finest form.

Dont Pay!:mad: :mad:

compressor stall
14th Oct 2002, 00:03

I stand corrected, but how would it work if you did not

change category to IFR ;) at an IFR reporting point, just somewhere on your direct track?


Chimbu chuckles
14th Oct 2002, 00:58
Have now perused the AsA website and indeed it seems that if you choose an appropriate Light Aircraft Option you could get good value for money in general terms....certainly it would be cheaper for me, in DOCs, to sit up high and go in a straight line than to duck and weave down low...zigzagging around control zones at a lower TAS/higher fuel burn.

It has long been my thought, based on annecdotal evidence, that AVdata was a rip off and I see nohing to change that...I will ignore them as an irrelevance.


Mooney Driver
14th Oct 2002, 10:18
Mainframe says:-

"A sector is IFR waypoint to IFR waypoint, NOT the entire trip, e.g. YSSY to YBIK might be flown IFR, then the remainder to YSCB flown vfr. Charges apply to the Sector ( YSSY-YBIK) flown IFR. If it was necessary to continue IFR from YBIK for a little while then change to VFR, charges would apply from YBIK to the next IFR waypoint before reverting to VFR."

This is what I would like to believe, but can find no reference to this on the ASA site. All paragraphs seem to repeatedly refer to "the ENTIRE flight".

Does anyone have a reference to this "waypoint to waypoint" definition of a sector when related to charges?

14th Oct 2002, 12:31
Compressor and Money Driver, If you change category to IFR, then you will be charged for the route sector you are in at the time, e.g. you might be in 96 nm sector with only 6nm to the next waypoint, you will be charged for the entire 96nm sector.

So if you want to change to VFR, remember to do so BEFORE the waypoint that defines the next sector and the meter stops at that waypoint.

If you were not on an IFR route but flying IFR on a direct non-IFR published track, your sector is from origin to destination, so you would be clever where possible to plan via IFR tracks if they're not too far off your direct track.

As an aside, when tonnes/nm charging was introduced, a lot of smaller operators started to fly VFR when possible to avoid charges.
This sometimes led to operations in marginal vmc. Eventually they learnt to factor it into the charter quote anyway and if they were then able to go VFR they were in front.

ASA have a booklet that explains the charging system so it will probably be a pdf doc on their site.

Most of my understanding of charges comes from reading the booklet while digesting and editing the ASA invoices.

Typical charges from memory for a 1.7 hr flight in a C310 (about 300nm) were in the order of $40, plus the terminal charges if your dest had ATC and fire services etc.

If you fly infrequently it is probably insignificant and acceptable, but it is easy to run up a $500/week bill if you do it regularly and frequently.

14th Oct 2002, 13:57
I was trying to think of appropriate callsigns to confuse the avdata parasites:confused:

I was thinking "Alpha Bravo Charlie":p - too fake.

Then it came into my head "Tango Foxtrot Alpha" sounds much more authentic.

Then I thought "that won't do either" because that is a Cessna T303 owned by a certain high up CASA person and that would be most impolite.:o

Back to the drawing board I guess.

Chimbu chuckles
14th Oct 2002, 14:15
What about "All stations Collarenabri QF 1 downwind for xx':D



I Fly
15th Oct 2002, 02:24
Mainframe and Mooney Driver, have a look in the ASA Booklet paragraph 5.1 "If all or any part of a flight operates under IFR, the enroute charge for the whole flight in an Australian flight information region is:" A flight is from take-off to landing. The only way around I can see is that you tell them "landed XYZ cancel SAR", have a cup of coffee and then continue on VFR. Remember they have your plan and it will cost you time and money to argue otherwise. Most of the money they collect gets used up in the collecting and little gets used for the purpose it was intended for.

Mooney Driver
15th Oct 2002, 08:53
Thank you, I FLY.

That's the way I read it too, and could/can see no reference that allowed charging for a "waypoint to waypoint" sector.

I've always wondered what would happen if you asked for a "pop-up" IFR clearance and gave your departure point as the nearest airfield just behind you???

I suppose you could also consider cancelling IFR when appropriate and then declare your "destination" as the nearest airfield with a navaid or intersection on the field.

If you've already filed a plan, I suppose you couldn't do the above.

SM4 Pirate
16th Oct 2002, 00:43
You could just file your plans as MIL, no charges... Callsign XXX123; no Registration required as its a MIL plan. Hard to do if you're out of a Prim or Sec aerodrome but if it makes no difference to the controllers.

Don't forget to put something in about what the letters mean so we know what to call you, RMK in field 18 (I think). e.g PST123 RMK/Callsign practice stealth

You'd only be upsetting the beancounters; we wouldn't want that.

Bottle of Rum