Go Back  PPRuNe Forums > PPRuNe Worldwide > The Pacific: General Aviation & Questions
Reload this Page >

25 years of holding at Williamtown

The Pacific: General Aviation & Questions The place for students, instructors and charter guys in Oz, NZ and the rest of Oceania.

25 years of holding at Williamtown

Old 17th Dec 2007, 23:01
  #1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Australia
Posts: 4,250
25 years of holding at Williamtown

Next year marks the 25th anniversary of my solo flight around the world. During that flight of over 350 hours, the only place I was held was at the edge of the Williamtown control zone – close to Newcastle, NSW. I was held there for about 15 minutes, orbiting over Nobbys at 500 feet, because a Beech 1900 or something similar was departing in an easterly direction from the airport in CAVOK conditions.

It is interesting that only a few weeks ago I was held again at Williamtown, and I have spoken to other pilots who are regularly held at Nobbys, orbiting at 500 feet. One claimed to have been held with two other aircraft – so three of them were orbiting at 500 feet inside the control zone under ATC instructions. A collision would have meant that two flaming aircraft would end up on the crowded beach at Nobbys.

You may ask, “Why is this so?” I believe it is because of an almost complete lack of leadership in the hierarchy of ATC in the Air Force in Canberra. In my experience, our military controllers are as good as any in the world. It is just that they are totally let down by people who move up into management positions and should therefore be updating the rules.

Over the last 25 years I have spoken at different times to the people in charge of air traffic control at Williamtown. They have always expressed frustration at having to hold VFR aircraft at Nobbys, but have explained that is what their rules require. It appears that when an IFR flight planned aircraft departs Williamtown (even if it is a Cessna 172) there is no way that the controller can ensure that this aircraft will reach 1,000 feet by the coast – 3 miles away. This means that there may not be adequate “separation” between the IFR aircraft and a VFR aircraft flying in the light aircraft lane at 500 feet.

I have written to the various people at Williamtown and in Canberra to no avail. There appears to be not the slightest grasp in the military that holding aircraft like this costs money and needlessly reduces safety. I can sure see why the military purchasing programs are such an enormous stuff-up if this is the calibre of their management.

About 15 years ago I was told that the procedures were going to be fixed so they were like other modern aviation countries in the world. Of course nothing happened.

A few weeks ago I was instructed to hold at Nobbys so I asked for a radar vector. You won’t believe it, the vector they gave me took me towards New Zealand out across the ocean! This wasn’t a matter of bastardry – it was simply an air traffic controller trying to comply with 1930s type rules. On this particular occasion the reason for the delay was a single regional aircraft – I think it was a Metro – about to depart from Williamtown some 8 miles away from Nobbys.

The situation can be solved by having Class D airspace at Williamtown, but the military has steadfastly refused to consider such an option. A controller told me that having Class D airspace with Class C above would be impossible to operate. I wonder if they have ever spoken to the controllers at places like Albury and Coffs Harbour?

This obstructionism can have little to do with safety because on weekends or during Christmas holidays (when there is more RPT traffic than ever) the air traffic controllers go home, the area becomes a giant CTAF, and everyone arranges their own “separation.” During these times I have never seen an aircraft holding at Nobbys – or indeed, anywhere.

Airline pilots have told me that when they depart IFR from Williamtown on runway 12, they are at least 1,500 feet when they cross the coast line, and most claim that they turn onto track before they get to the coast anyway. This means that there is no way an IFR aircraft can collide with a lighty in the lane at 500 feet.

Imagine if we ever had a war – with the present people in senior positions in the Air Force seemingly unable to make any decision which requires lateral thinking and real leadership. It would probably be like WWII, where I understand that after about 6 months of chaos, the bureaucrats who had attained high positions in the military were sacked and competent people replaced them.

When Angus Houston, the then Chief of Air Force, sat with me on the Aviation Reform Group over three years ago at endless meetings, he assured me and others that the military totally supported moving to the North American NAS system. He said that he had flown in the US and thought it was one of the best systems in the world. He was totally committed to introducing the advantages into Australia. What happened? Absolutely nothing. If the Chief of the Air Force can have no effect on getting his people to move forward to modern practices, you just wonder if anyone can.

What do others think?
Dick Smith is offline  
Old 18th Dec 2007, 00:40
  #2 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Nov 1999
Location: Aus
Posts: 725
Airline pilots have told me that when they depart IFR from Williamtown on runway 12, they are at least 1,500 feet when they cross the coast line
That's obviously with 2 still turning. I would hate to only have 1 working and have to contend with someone crossing my path at 500 feet.

Nobby's sounds good to me.
olderairhead is offline  
Old 18th Dec 2007, 01:30
  #3 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: The Hornets Nest, NSW
Posts: 833
Hi Dick.

I couldn't say why you wouldn't have been given a vector/climb clearance as each case by case clearance would obviously be different. Much of the problem for transitting VFR ops may well be that the Salt Ash range (R596) may well have aircraft on it at that time (don't always show up on the same FRQ) which may have precluded any aircraft from climbing to (say) 1500', tracking direct the field and then once the departing aircraft has established clear of, seperated and tracking away from the VFR traffic (bearing in mind Willy does have very good SSR) then re-clearing the VFR traffic back up the coast.

I agree with you. IFR aircraft get vectors around Salt Ash, why can't VFR aircraft get the same in VMC?

I guess the proximity to the RWY complex and shape of R596 makes the approach/CTR controllers life a bit difficult when looked at with the proximity of the coast (and the traffic that the coastal route takes).

Without a VFR chart in front of me (please bear with me) a suggestion might be a lane similar to the one up the back of the zone that (say) runs up the Pacific Highway to the back of Grahamstown Dam, Karuah (make the big new bridge a reporting point southbound or maybe even further north so as to co-ordinate range or cct activities?), then back towards Port Stephens or the coast. There is some tiger country in there for SE aircraft, but the exposure would be minimised.

Just a thought.

OpsN.
OpsNormal is offline  
Old 18th Dec 2007, 01:32
  #4 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Australia
Posts: 408
Critical Reynolds No is offline  
Old 18th Dec 2007, 01:47
  #5 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Australia
Posts: 4,250
Olderairhead, what are the odds of an IFR aircraft having an engine failure on take off from 12 and crossing the coast at 500 feet at exactly the same time that a VFR aircraft in the lane is at the same place? It would need the experts to look at it, but it would probably be something like the same odds as 4 engines in a 747 failing at once.

It is interesting that the late Alan Green of Qantas campaigned relentlessly against the Victor 1 lane in Sydney. His claim? It was that a 747 taking off from 07 with an engine out could drift down into the lane. Of course if that did actually happen (and it could) I would hazard a guess that if there was a VFR aircraft in the lane, the pilot may turn away from a 360 tonne heavy – just a chance!

By the way, I forgot to mention that the Williamtown airspace is Class C and extends to 24 miles in radius at ground level. That means that they capture lots of unnecessary traffic.

Olderairhead, do you realise that lots of commercial operators use that lane? By holding passengers there, people next time don’t bother to charter and possibly decide to go by road because they are wasting so much time. Also with the so-called climate change problem, surely it is better not to hold aircraft if it is not necessary.

Just a thought.
Dick Smith is offline  
Old 18th Dec 2007, 01:56
  #6 (permalink)  

Metrosexual
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Enroute
Posts: 624
Critical reynolds number!

Your post - made my day
Jet_A_Knight is offline  
Old 18th Dec 2007, 02:56
  #7 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: QLD, Australia
Posts: 181
Ditto Townsville.
Spinnerhead is offline  
Old 18th Dec 2007, 03:45
  #8 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 430
Imagine if we ever had a war – with the present people in senior positions in the Air Force seemingly unable to make any decision which requires lateral thinking and real leadership.
you are the first to get your nose out of shape if someone gets slanderous against you; yet you have the hide to write something like this. Pathetic.

what are the odds of an IFR aircraft having an engine failure on take off from 12 and crossing the coast at 500 feet at exactly the same time that a VFR aircraft in the lane is at the same place?
since when did 'odds' come into positive separation??

So are you saying that if this was a civilian aorport with the same geography, then lighties wouldn't get held if there was an IFR departure of 12; i.e are you are saying that the rules here are RAAF specific?

At least you called it Williamtown, as in Air Force Base and not Newcastle Airport.
ftrplt is offline  
Old 18th Dec 2007, 03:56
  #9 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: UAE
Age: 45
Posts: 447
Dick, I just sometimes don't get you. On one hand you are saying that delays by ATC while they POSITIVELY SEPARATE you are unacceptable, yet you want to institute class E pretty much to the ground in some places, causing more delays.

What am I missing?

NFR.
No Further Requirements is offline  
Old 18th Dec 2007, 04:52
  #10 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Australia
Posts: 4,250
Ftrplt, if what I am saying is the truth surely that is the important issue. Lots of people make statements about me on PPRuNe which they believe is the truth.

“Odds” don't come into positive separation, they come into the class of airspace that should be allocated.

Yes, I am saying that if it were a civilian airport the lighties would not be delayed. ATC would simply say to the IFR aircraft, “Requirement to reach 1,000 feet by the coast as we have VFR traffic at 500 feet.” The airline pilot could either accept the clearance requirement or advise if it wasn’t suitable.

It obviously can’t be much to do with safety because when the military decide to go home for Christmas, it is a total free for all – they don’t even have a UNICOM operating there.

I believe these people are totally irresponsible and do not have the slightest interest in the safety of typical Mums and Dads, and people who fly into Williamtown for their Christmas holidays. It is not as if they can fly anywhere else. Aeropelican is now closed so it is either Williamtown or drive on the roads.

One thing that gets me mad is the blatant untruths from these people. They have assured me over the last decade that they will be making changes, and that they agree the airspace needs to be updated. However they never do this. Why would they tell fibs in this way? Is it because they simply do not have the ability to bring in any change at all?

No Further Requirements, I am totally consistent. Positively separating IFR and VFR aircraft in the circumstances I have given is totally ridiculous. All that needs to be given is a traffic information service between the aircraft – as happens in every other modern aviation country in the world. That is, to the departing IFR aircraft, “Traffic for you is a Cessna 172 flying north over the water at 500 feet.”

Class E to the ground will only cause delays in IMC. It is as if you don’t understand that Class E, when used properly, is identical to Class G in VMC. When it comes to delays occurring in IMC, I wouldn’t want to depart in IMC if another aircraft was doing an approach in the same direction. The Class E procedures to be used by IFR when in IMC are almost identical to what responsible pilots now use when IMC exists in Class G. I have said this again and again but you don’t seem to understand it.

People constantly say that Class E will mean “one in, one out.” No it doesn’t. It only means “one in, one out” when safety requires it.
Dick Smith is offline  
Old 18th Dec 2007, 05:11
  #11 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: On a Ship Near You
Posts: 787
I wouldn’t want to depart in IMC if another aircraft was doing an approach in the same direction.
This is where E differs from G; the air traffic controller cannot give such a clearance (to depart in the opposite direction, well to the safe way) until the inbound is assured of landing; ie cancelled IFR (which is still an issue here, unlike the USA) or advising they will not be making a missed approach (will they ever do this, before almost stopping); cause the missed approach path needs to be clear from the time the approach is commenced, especially without surveillance.

One in one out will be slower in E in IMC than making a "safe" judgement call in G.

Try BTH NDBs, one in one out from the LSALT; we proved in 1992 why this was a bad thing to do, in terms of efficiency; then there is that ORG issue overlapping etc.
SM4 Pirate is offline  
Old 18th Dec 2007, 05:12
  #12 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Bleak City
Posts: 229
Dick,

You're an id!ot, fair dinkum, haven't you got anything better to do with your time? Go and spend some time with the wife and kids for crissake
En-Rooter is offline  
Old 18th Dec 2007, 05:40
  #13 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Hell...where angels ride harleys
Posts: 239
Just to clarify....

25 years ago, you saw a problem (for you). You then became part of the CAA/CASA, TWICE, yet didn't fix it, now you are complaining because for the second time in 25 years you have had to hold at Nobbys?
and then you wonder why people don't take you all that seriously ???
chief wiggum is offline  
Old 18th Dec 2007, 05:46
  #14 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Sydney, AUSTRALIA
Posts: 18
Angel Bigles

Dick,
You can't always expect A Purple Airway,perhaps
a Peerage would increase your chances !!!
bigles is offline  
Old 18th Dec 2007, 05:52
  #15 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Seat 0A
Posts: 8,020
Yeh Dick, I thought you had retired?
Capn Bloggs is offline  
Old 18th Dec 2007, 06:56
  #16 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: UAE
Age: 45
Posts: 447
Dick, I understand class E quite well thank you very much. Tell me, if the conditions at the airport are slightly above the minima (you'll get in, but be in IMC for most of the approach), what kind of delay can you expect on departure in class E as opposed to class G? I know - lots more.

For example, an IFR PA31 on the RWY23 VOR into WG says he's at 10NM, left A040. Another PA31 calls centre and says he's ready to go to Cootamundra off RWY23. Centre has to hold him and wait for the other guy to call visual, about 2 NM from the aerodrome. In the meantime, in class G, the other PA31 could have launched off to the north knowing that the other aircraft would not do a missed approach and thereby be satisfied that although they are both in IMC, there is no collision risk.

Centre, however, has to delay the guy on the ground as they have nothing but procedural standards to rely on as the radar coverage is down to A030 at best.

Now, I ask again, am I missing something.

Cheers,

NFR.

(Dick - I ask you not to question my knowledge of airspace - I operate A, C, E and G - just as I do not question your ability to be endorsed on multiple aircraft types. Thank you)
No Further Requirements is offline  
Old 18th Dec 2007, 07:07
  #17 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Planet Plazbot
Posts: 1,003
I think the design of the Willy zone plays a great part in this issue. There is very very little airspace to the south and south east of the runway. The circuit goes very close to the river and often downwind for right base 12 go OCTA with anything more than 1 or 2 in the sequence. Throw in a bit of action in the range to the north at Salt Ash and there is very little room to move.
tobzalp is offline  
Old 18th Dec 2007, 07:23
  #18 (permalink)  
Sprucegoose
 
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: Hughes Point, where life is great! Was also resident on page 13, but now I'm lost in Cyberspace....
Age: 56
Posts: 3,486
In 25 years of aviation, I have never been asked to hold other than when proceeding directly to a capital city airport! But then again I NEVER PLAN, NOR EXPECT to transit a control zone within 5 miles of an active runway...

But with respect to Williamtown, the exact same scenario you describe takes place with the zone deactivated, so why not when it is active!
Howard Hughes is offline  
Old 18th Dec 2007, 07:28
  #19 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: ...
Posts: 341
Thumbs down

Why can't you stop meddling?

at the edge of the Williamtown control zone.... I was held there for about 15 minutes, orbiting over Nobbys ........only a few weeks ago I was held again at Williamtown .....The situation can be solved by having Class D airspace at Williamtown
So you get held twice in 25 years and the airspace needs changing?

Is this like your own special VFR lane again or something??

Interesting that they chose to hold you at "Nobbys"...
ScottyDoo is offline  
Old 18th Dec 2007, 08:14
  #20 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: Australia
Posts: 543
I see someone has beaten me to the punch, but I near burst a whoopie valve when I read
what are the odds of an IFR aircraft having an engine failure on take off from 12 and crossing the coast at 500 feet at exactly the same time that a VFR aircraft in the lane is at the same place?
This, from a man who once - or twice - ran our civil aviation system.

Dick, (I'm not being familiar, Mr Smith - I'm using the word in another sense altogether), that comment goes close to Bob Hawke’s “glorified bus drivers” crack back in that year we dare not mention in displaying a total lack of understanding of what we professional aviators do each day when we attempt to fly aeroplanes in as safe a manner as possible.
MTOW is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.