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“Sir Angus Won’t Allow the Fireies to Provide a Unicom Service”.

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“Sir Angus Won’t Allow the Fireies to Provide a Unicom Service”.

Old 13th Jul 2015, 03:17
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“Sir Angus Won’t Allow the Fireies to Provide a Unicom Service”.

Pilots back reforms for air space overhaul

The union representing pilots has thrown its weight behind an audacious move to transform management of the nation’s skies by adopting the safer US model *extending air traffic control over more airspace, particularly in *regional areas.
The move also has the clear support of Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss, who as minister *responsible for aviation will soon release a new airspace policy statement calling on aviation authorities to “adopt proven international best practice airspace systems adapted to benefit Australia’s *aviation environment”.
But other aspects of the new *direction unveiled last week by the new chairman of the Civil Avia*tion Safety Authority, Jeff Boyd, have run into immediate resistance. The government organisation which controls the *nation’s air traffic, Airservices Australia, has reiterated its refusal to have the fire crews it employs at region*al airports man radios to provide *pilots with potentially lifesaving local weather and air traffic inform*ation, defying moves by CASA to clear a regulatory path for them to do so.
The insistence of Airservices Australia chairman Angus Houston that his organisation’s fire and rescue officers will not provide the Unicom radio advice service, as their US firefighter counterparts do at many regional airports, could result in higher air ticket prices.
Regional airports such as *Ballina on the NSW north coast which want to introduce a radio service will be forced, in the absenc*e of Airservices firefighters doing so, to hire retired air traffic controllers to perform the role, charging airlines the additional costs, which they will in turn pass on to passengers.
Sir Angus’s position pits him against Mr Boyd, who said he would sponsor a board directive aimed at freeing up the range of *information that ground staff — *including, potentially, fire fighters *— can provide to pilots.
Airservices and the air traffic controllers union, Civil Air, are united on the firefighters issue, with the union insisting on no changes to the current regulations, which prohibit any person who has not held a controller’s licence in the past 10 years from providing air traffic and weather information.
As revealed by The Weekend Australian, CASA will progressively review airspace around the country with a view to extending control where radar or other surveilla*nce technologies permit.
Unlike the airspace system in the US and Canada, where commercial aircraft throughout the two countries are always directed by air traffic controllers *almost to the runway, whether or not there is radar coverage, Australia has a patchwork system*.
Apart from the larger cities, controlled airspace generally only comes down to 8500 feet.
At this point controllers no longer direct aircraft and pilots are *required to talk to each other over the radio to establish each other’s position and work out manoeuvres to avoid colliding with each other.
CASA is expected to first *expand controlled airspace around Ballina, with a recom*mendation likely soon to lower the level above which controllers still direct traffic from 8500 feet to 5000 feet.
The president of the Australian Federation of Air Pilots, airline captain David Booth, said pilots heartily endorsed the move.
“We absolutely support that. It gives greater protection to air traffic,” Mr Booth said.
He also praised a report by US air traffic control expert Jeff *Griffith, who was commissioned by The Australian last week to *review Australian airspace, 11 years after the federal government brought him here to help introduce a US-style national airspace system.
“This has not happened, but I strongly support this objective even today,” Mr Griffith wrote in his report.
Civil Air president Daryl Hickey said he was unable to comment because the union had not seen the specifics of the proposed airspace changes.
The manager of Ballina Byron Gateway Airport, Neil Weatherson, has said he would prefer the 17 firefighters based at the airport in a new $13.5 million station with its own viewing tower, to provide the radio service, since they were there anyway and well placed to do so.
But he said last week that because Airservices leadership showed no sign of budging, he would instead hire retired air traffic controllers to provide the local weather and traffic advice to *pilots.
This will require employing three or four new staff, at a cost Mr Weatherson said he would pass on to airlines as airport charge*s, to in turn be passed on to passengers.
An Airservices spokesman *reiterated the view expressed by Sir Angus that its firefighters’ prime duty was to be always ready to deal quickly with emergencies.
“Our services include rapid *response to any incident, anywhere on an airport, in less than three minutes,” Airservices said, adding that this included dealing with any medical incident.
The service made more than 6700 responses nationally last year, with 28 lives saved, the spokesman said.
Aviator and businessman Dick Smith, who has lobbied for firefighters to provide the radio service, described Airservices’ position as “outrageous’’.
“They have a monopoly on providing the fire service, so the airport can’t hire its own fire fighters and direct what duties they will perform, but Airservices won’t provide the radio service,’’ Mr Smith said.
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Folks,
As I have noted on the GA thread, great to see the AFAP supporting E.

I find Sir Angus' position with the RFSS services inexplicable, and with the very greatest of respect to Sir Angus, in my opinion the Airservices official position is nonsensical.

Tootle pip!!
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Old 13th Jul 2015, 03:38
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I am curious as to how the states run this. I am fairly sure that in a turn out the bloke sitting in the FCC (the room with the view and I am presuming where the Unicom would be) once having activated the call out then goes and gets into a truck to respond. The lines etc then divert to Adelaide or the NOC or somewhere for relaying. Since the neither of the latter would be particuarly adept at being a unicom for any given airfield, there would need to be another ARFF member assigned to each station.

So I guess my question is, how do the Firies in the states do it? Do they have additional staff to supply the service? Does the service stop when they respond to something?
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Old 13th Jul 2015, 04:42
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Of course it stops when they respond to a crash- and that's not often. In the USA the Unicom is not prescriptively regulated. Just a fantastic zero cost improvement to safety.

In the USA like all other modern aviation countries the RFFS is run by the local airport and the Firies are multi skilled . They do lots of other jobs when aircraft are not landing or taking off. Just commonsense. The coalition decided to bring in this system under Mark Vaile but it never happened .

Under Mr Truss and his advisors nothing will change. Our current RFFS costs per tonne landed are about twice that of NZ where it is competitively provided.
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Old 13th Jul 2015, 04:44
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Does the service stop when they respond to something?
Probably.

The issue with fireies everywhere (not just aviation ones) is the requirement that you have well trained and expensive people who have to be available and so spend most of their time sitting around waiting.

No easy solution
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Old 13th Jul 2015, 04:48
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Despite my comments on another thread in respect of cost/benefit, those comments were couched in terms of current requirements as to who can provide traffic and WX advice and the concomitant on-costs. This is a different kettle of fish.

Provided that the information transmitted is of a general nature to enhance situational awareness, then I can't see a problem with the concept.

As an ex-controller, I would not endorse the specific - like 'suggest you extend downwind,' but I cannot see a downside with something like:

'We still haven't got the traffic.'

'He's mid-downwind now.'

'Thanks, got him.'

Firies ain't dumb-bums and are perfectly capable of providing that sort of general information to enhance situational awareness. If uniformity is required regarding giving general traffic info, one could produce a very simple CD, with graphics, explaining how general traffic info should be relayed. This is not rocket-science!

As for firies attending an emergency and not being able to continue the service, as mentioned elsewhere, the understanding would be that the service is provided on the 'basis of priorities.' And that can go in the regs to provide 'legal coverage.'

I just cannot see a problem with this one as regards cost/benefit. IMHO, there are benefits and the cost would be zip!
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Old 13th Jul 2015, 05:22
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Ok. I was just curious how they manage it.

Whilst a crash doesn't happen very often, that's not the only thing that would cause the ARFF to turn out. But doesn't mean something couldn't be implemented I guess.
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Old 13th Jul 2015, 06:21
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Awol, I disagree with Dick way more often than I agree; but this time, in my opinion, he is on the money.

No discernible on-costs if instituted, because the people are already in place and being paid anyway. And 'general advice' is not going to run someone into a hill.

Do you know what the firies do? They run drills to keep themselves up to speed, they maintain the equipment ready to go at a moment's notice, and they are thoroughly professional and respond in a heart-beat.

But, but, that's not more than a total few hours out of a whole working week.

The rest of the time, once they're prepped-up, it's dead set boredom; volley ball and cards waiting for something to happen.

I won't pre-empt the opinion of a firie, but my personal take is that they'd do the job and would probably enjoy the extra responsibility if covered in the regs (on a priority basis).

Just my opinion, but the firies could do this without a problem!
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Old 13th Jul 2015, 06:23
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Whilst a crash doesn't happen very often, that's not the only thing that would cause the ARFF to turn out. But doesn't mean something couldn't be implemented I guess.
I don't see why providing Unicom services on a 'when practical' basis can't happen. Sure, if the firies need to be doing something else, go do it, but most of the time they are hanging around waiting. Having a Unicom most of the time is still a whole lot better than none of the time.
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Old 13th Jul 2015, 06:29
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Whilst a crash doesn't happen very often, that's not the only thing that would cause the ARFF to turn out. But doesn't mean something couldn't be implemented I guess.
So seldom, in fact, that there has never been a survivable accident on an Australian airfield, where the ARFF presence made any difference to the outcome.

This fact was the basis for the removal of fire services from capital city secondary airports and some others, many years ago. Since that time, the statistics have not changed. ARFF, in economist's term, is a classic case of economic waste, expensive regulation that produces no benefit.

A further fact, ARFF services at places like Ballina are NOT required by ICAO, foisting this cost on small airports is home grown regulation. ICAO only mandates ARFF services at international airports, and if it is a small international airport, filing a difference brings Australian into compliance with ICAO.

Has anybody got any current figures? The last ones I saw ( well out of date, now) for one small QLD regional airport was AUD$18.00 per passenger. In terms of present day fares, that is quite a percentage.

Running a UNICOM at Ballina is not going to overload the ARFF service.

Tootle pip!!
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Old 13th Jul 2015, 08:14
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I am definitely not saying the ARFF couldn't manage it. I was just wondering how it was implemented overseas. The guys in the station next door to me would have no dramas doing it (if there wasn't a tower) I was just more genuinely interested in how it works overseas.
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Old 13th Jul 2015, 09:22
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mmmm, firies working at aerodromes where they're likely to never put a fire out in a lifetime. Absolutely bloody ridiculous. I'm having trouble understanding how an ARFF facility can be justified when a tower isn't. And why there are towers at locations without ARFF? Not saying there should be, the whole thing is a massive wank.

Why shouldn't a firie provide a Unicom if they're going to be sitting on their arse waiting for that once in a lifetime fire. Why shouldn't they be doing ARO, or mowing the grass, or painting the gable markers?
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Old 14th Jul 2015, 00:03
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Never thought I would say this but I agree with Dick. Why is AsA providing the ARFF? Quite simply this should be the responsibility of the airport like some other countries. If AsA is cheapest then give them the tender. Why cant the fories do other tasks such as runway inspections, minor maintenance, unicom services, etc? Beats the hell out of sitting on their butts all day watching Ellen.
Of course this would never happen in Australia because we must have Trident because Trident is best and Australia must have the best!! (Yes Minister for the younger people)
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Old 14th Jul 2015, 00:14
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I'm having trouble understanding how an ARFF facility can be justified when a tower isn't. And why there are towers at locations without ARFF?
Because the establishment of ARFF is a CASA requirement based on passenger numbers, not aircraft movements.

MOS Part 139 Chapter 2: Criteria for Establishment or Disestablishment of ARFFS.

Why is AsA providing the ARFF? Quite simply this should be the responsibility of the airport like some other countries.
The rest of MOS Part 139H details the standards required for ARFF, which if you take a look, will explain why an AD OPR would not want to do it themselves.

https://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/F2...l/Text#param40
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Old 14th Jul 2015, 00:42
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The AD operator does not have to own and operate the ARFF. They can contract it out to the provider. Have you considered that our gold plated Part 139H is actually a bit over the top for most aerodromes? The only lives that get saved by an airport firie are in the terminal when grandma and grandpa cant cope with the pressure of going to see the grandkids.
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Old 14th Jul 2015, 02:06
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The AD operator does not have to own and operate the ARFF. They can contract it out to the provider. Have you considered that our gold plated Part 139H is actually a bit over the top for most aerodromes?
I'm not defending the situation - just informing that ARFF is established per current CASA regs.

I seem to recall some years back Airservices or its predecessor CAA tried to divest itself of ARFF but no-one wanted to take it on.
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Old 14th Jul 2015, 05:24
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------ how an ARFF facility can be justified when a tower isn't.
Porter,
They can't be justified on any rational basis, but what does rationality have to do with much Australian aviation regulation.
Irrational and unjustified is all to often the norm.
As mentioned previously, this cost is a classic example of economic waste, expenditure for absolutely no benefit.
Just what one might expect when the union writes the rules under an "air safety" camouflage net.
Tootle pip!!
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Old 14th Jul 2015, 08:54
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My understanding of Unicom services, is that they only provide ancillary communication services, such as calling for fuel trucks, taxis for crews and pax etc. So I don't really see the point of having a Firefighter do this task. Why not just employ a local who knows how to operate a phone and teach them to talk on a radio?

So no, I see no need or relevance in Firefighters being given this duty.
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Old 14th Jul 2015, 09:13
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Unicom provide aerodrome and traffic information to aircraft arriving and departing the zone around the airfield. They do not provide any sort of control service.

Their job is not to only provide ancillary communication services, such as calling for fuel trucks, taxis for crews and pax etc
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Old 14th Jul 2015, 09:53
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Unicoms are totally non prescriptive in the USA. They provide known traffic and weather and anything else that is deemed useful .

Bring it on in Aus. CASA!
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Old 14th Jul 2015, 10:16
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I'm having trouble understanding how an ARFF facility can be justified when a tower isn't. And why there are towers at locations without ARFF
Because the establishment of ARFF is a CASA requirement based on passenger numbers, not aircraft movements.

MOS Part 139 Chapter 2: Criteria for Establishment or Disestablishment of ARFFS.
My trouble understanding is not based on mis-understanding CASA requirements based on pax numbers etc. My trouble understanding is based on the stupidity of having different establishment criteria for towers/ARFF.

Towers without an ARFF: The controllers are of good standard and are not expected to put 2 together in the immediate airport vicinity.

Towers with an ARFF: The controllers are shit and a midair is imminent.

Aerodrome with an ARFF & no tower: The pilots are shit & can't be trusted.

Aerodrome with no ARFF or tower: The pilots are awesome & don't need controllers or ARFF.
The name is Porter is online now  

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