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Planned Media Release re CASA Misinformation

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Planned Media Release re CASA Misinformation

Old 23rd Oct 2014, 03:37
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Planned Media Release re CASA Misinformation

Unless some sensible advice can be given to the contrary, I plan to send out the following Media Release next Thursday, 30 October.

DICK SMITH SAYS, "PILOTS SHOULD THINK CAREFULLY BEFORE COMPLYING WITH LATEST CASA RADIO CALL ADVICE
- WHICH OTHER COUNTRIES PROHIBIT"

Following an article by Steve Creedy in The Australian (5.9.2014), “CASA Panned for Frequency Changes”, I have been contacted by committee members of the Regional Airspace and Procedure Advisory Committees (RAPACs) querying the Advice.

I have also had multiple communications with CASA on this issue. The original requirement under the Federal Cabinet approved National Airspace System (“NAS”) policy was for all small aerodromes that do not have an allocated CTAF frequency for pilots to use the Multicom frequency of 126.7.

More recently, CASA has changed this Advice so that at aerodromes which are not marked on charts (literally thousands of small agricultural and private dirt and grass strips), the calling frequencies for taxi and circuit calls must be on the area frequency.

While such calls may help in alerted see-and-avoid for light aircraft in the vicinity of the strips, there is a major implication for the safety of airline passengers. That is, the calls are likely to interfere with air traffic control instructions to airline aircraft.

Dick Smith says, “CASA seems to be obsessed with a non-existent frequency congestion issue but do not understand that no country in the world allows small aircraft to give non-directed calls on frequencies that are used by Air Traffic Controllers to separate airline aircraft. This is for obvious safety reasons”.

“There are many times when an immediate call has to be given to an airline aircraft for safety purposes, however if a taxiing aircraft at a small strip is blocking the frequency, this call may not get through to the airline crew”, says Dick Smith.

Dick Smith says, “After communications with CASA it is obvious that they do not understand the safety implications of their Advice – in fact, they have no understanding of the airspace policy that was approved by Federal Cabinet”.

“Whilst I agree that the chance of an accident is small because of this unique CASA Advice, the result of an accident could be horrendous – with up to five hundred people being killed if two airline aircraft happened to collide because an important communication from Air Traffic Control was blocked. That is clearly why other countries prohibit small aircraft from giving non-directed calls on Air Traffic Control separation frequencies”, says Dick Smith.

Dick Smith says, “All pilots complying with this latest CASA Advice should be aware that they could unintentionally be responsible for a major airline accident in the future”.
The reason for this is that after Peter Cromarty, Executive Manager of the Airspace and Aerodrome Regulation Division at CASA, told me the decision in relation to radio calls at non-CTAF marked aerodromes was not his but the people in Operations, I realised that CASA was becoming more dysfunctional every day.

I have had numerous communications backwards-and-forwards on this issue – and also with the ATS-B. It looks to me as if the people making up the advice have minds which are set in concrete. They have never bothered to ask advice or see how airspace works in other countries around the world.

Their advice for aircraft to monitor and announce on air traffic control frequencies when in the circuit area of non-CTAF marked aerodromes may help reduce the almost infinitesimal chance of a mid-air at such locations, however at the same time it adds a serious safety implication; that is, the obvious chance of blocking out air traffic controller instructions.

The problem is that some of these ill-informed, but no doubt genuine, people at CASA and the ATSB are attempting to put the old Flightservice “radio range separation techniques” where IFR and VFR flew at the same quadrant levels into a halfway-stage NAS.

I have stated many times that we need to go back to the pre-1991 AMATS system and the quadrantial rule and for full position reporting with separate ATC/Flightservice frequency sectors – or we need to continue to the proven NAS airspace.

I have been informed that the Government policy on NAS is no longer accepted by CASA. In that case, then what is the policy? It is clear that no-one knows.

Unless there is sound, rational advice on why I should not send out this Media Release, it will be issued next Thursday.
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Old 23rd Oct 2014, 04:49
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Nice work Dick. Every Jabiru, Ultralight and c152 broadcasting taxi or circuit calls on area frequency would be a bloody nightmare. It's hard enough to get some people of the air as it is.
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Old 23rd Oct 2014, 05:38
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Yes. It's pretty clear this latest CASA requirement only works if virtually no-one complies.

And that seems to be happening.

Then again you only need one call to block out an important ATC clearance or instruction .

Remember it's unlikely the controller will hear a taxiing call as ground to ground VHF communication is limited in range.
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Old 23rd Oct 2014, 06:00
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I'm not sure if I'm reading this correctly, but is it saying any Strip not marked on a WAC should, instead of calling on 126.7, use the Area Frequency?

What now happens if you have a Strip that is not marked on a WAC but is close to another Strip which is? You could quite potentially have a busy marked strip making calls on 126.7 as normal and another nearby un-marked strip making calls on the Area Frequency?!
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Old 23rd Oct 2014, 06:02
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Can you get Airservices to stop using the term "Metro D" when referring to Class D Airspace. I can't find Metro D airspace in the AIP.
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Old 23rd Oct 2014, 06:23
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I support you on this one, Dick.
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Old 23rd Oct 2014, 06:54
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Caught a cockroach the other day, put it on the table and yelled: “Walk!” It walked.

I recaptured the cockroach, pulled its legs off, put it on the table again, and again yelled: “Walk!” It didn’t walk.

That proves cockroaches hear through their legs.

“There are literally thousands of small agricultural and private dirt and grass strips.” Wow!

How many movements are there each day at these places? To the closest million.

How many of those movements involve aircraft that are required to have a serviceable VHF? To the closest hundred thousand.

Of course, the almost complete silence I hear on area and 126.7 as I fly over these thousands of small agricultural and private dirt and grass strips couldn’t possibly be attributed to the fact that there’s three fifths of five eighths of f*ck all happening there. Nor could it possibly be attributed to the fact that to the extent that anything’s happening at all at these places, much of it involves aircraft that are not required to carry serviceable VHF.

It’s instead because all those thousands of aircraft engaged in all those millions of movements are not complying with the CASA requirement.

Don’t worry Dick: Everyone will continue to do what you do and just make sh*t up, untroubled by conflicting messages.

(DB: That’s why you have “Metro D”. It’s code for ... sssshhhhhh ... GAAP. That’s why the procedures for flying in and out of e.g. YSBK today are almost identical to the procedures for flying in and out of YSBK around 30 years ago. Only difference is that 2FC is now 2RN, no more Westmead Hospital approach point and there’s less than half the traffic. Those naughty ATCers finally got their way on taxi clearances at GAAP though, but that’s effectively just a timing thing.)
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Old 23rd Oct 2014, 07:30
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Ixix it is extremely complicated according to CASA . In some cases you would use the nearest CTAF frequency- in other cases you would not!

The FAA has no problems with this as there are no area frequencies . Outrageous I here you shout. Yes they know little about aviation there. They only built the 747 and we built the Nomad.

Creamy. You are of course correct. Hardly any calls as hardly anyone flying.

However it may take only one call for the holes in the cheese to line up and cause an ATC related accident. That's why Pilots are not permitted to make annoucements on ATC separation frequencies in other countries.
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Old 23rd Oct 2014, 07:48
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There is a solution...no radio calls required
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Old 23rd Oct 2014, 08:03
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I thought that we had resolved this on another thread.
When operating out of a strip which is not marked on maps, the pilot wants to be on the same frequency as anyone else who might be in the area. That's normally not 126.7.
There is a prominent ATC on here who keeps telling us that there is no frequency congestion because of this. I believe him.
Also, an ATC who lets a critical situation develop such that any call from someone else will result in disaster, needs retraining. It doesn't have to be an OCTA lightie making an untimely call, it could be any one of the other fifteen aircraft being separated by that controller.
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Old 23rd Oct 2014, 08:24
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Another thought. In the USA, how does an overflying pilot know when to change to 126.7 if there is no way of him knowing that he is about to fly through the circuit of a strip?
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Old 23rd Oct 2014, 08:53
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Ixixly

I'm not sure if I'm reading this correctly, but is it saying any Strip not marked on a WAC should, instead of calling on 126.7, use the Area Frequency?

What now happens if you have a Strip that is not marked on a WAC but is close to another Strip which is? You could quite potentially have a busy marked strip making calls on 126.7 as normal and another nearby un-marked strip making calls on the Area Frequency?!
FWIW WACs are only updated every few years. VTC VNC ERC are updated twice a year and so are far more up to date.

AIP is straightforward.
  • If the aerodrome/strip is marked on a chart and has a discrete CTAF: use that;
  • If the aerodrome/strip is marked on a chart and doesn't have a discrete CTAF: use 126.7;
  • if the aerodrome/strip isn't marked on a chart: use the FIA frequency.

In the scenario you mention i.e. a strip not marked on a chart in close proximity to another that is, common sense applies:
  • make a broadcast on 126.7 as well as the FIA.
If the strip not marked on a chart is in close proximity to one that is which has a discrete CTAF:
  • make a broadcast on that discrete CTAF as well as the FIA.

CASA has longstanding procedures in place if chatter becomes a problem on an FIA frequency from traffic at an aerodrome/strip not marked on a chart. Amongst other options:
  • direct that it be published on charts, then 126.7 will apply.
ATC are indeed the ones who know whether or not chatter is a problem on FIA frequencies. Suffice to say if chatter were to become a problem somewhere, ATC would not hesitate to kick up a fuss
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Old 23rd Oct 2014, 09:06
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Ok CaptainMidnight, sure that makes sense when explained like that but it seems like a fairly over complicated system which increases the risk of 2 aircraft not being on the right frequency. I haven't been back in Aus for a few years but when I was outback it was simple, unless an aerodrome had it's own frequency you use 126.7, simple, I just don't see what possible issue this solves?

I operated around Arnhemland and on a busy day you could have 6 relatively close airstrips all with someone coming, going or both and very rarely did we ever have any particular problems, I can imagine an area like Arnhemland becoming exceptionally confusing now.

So if there is a problem they will direct it be published and that takes how long for it to be published and even then everyone is using slightly different charts for a while so therefore if there is a problem Strip that needs to be published on all relevant charts that problem is left un-fixed for perhaps up to a year whilst the relevant red tape is sorted, the maps finally get printed and everyone updates their maps.

It just seems very silly and all for no particular reason.
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Old 23rd Oct 2014, 09:09
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A recent personal event that showed monitoring Area Freq to be a good idea.


An IFR Bonanza climbing out of Mudgee was advised by Centre that there was an unidentified aircraft where we were. We called Centre to tell them that we were a VFR Bonanza at 9500' abeam Orange en route Katoomba on a QNH of 1023. Centre told us that their area QNH was 1022 so we adjusted our altimeters and cruise height. Centre gave us a squawk code and we identified. Centre confirmed that we were the aircraft in question. The IFR Bonanza confirmed that he had a TCAS RA and afterwards that he had us sighted. All safe and stress free for everyone. And MEL Cen even thanked us for the call!


And I didn't hear of any heavy metal crashing that day, Dick...
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Old 23rd Oct 2014, 09:12
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Ixixly

Could you please, please (please) nominate which of those strips are not marked on any chart?

Please.
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Old 23rd Oct 2014, 09:29
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Creampuff. There are many in the mittagong to goulburn area- even with windsocks- but not marked on the charts.

Captain. It's not chatter that is the problem- it's just the one transmission that blocks an ATC call that may be needed to prevent a mid air!

Gerry - and if you were not monitoring the area frequency the IFR aircraft would have been given a traffic information service on you and it would have used alerted see and avoid to keep clear!
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Old 23rd Oct 2014, 10:00
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The IFR Bonanza confirmed that he had a TCAS RA and afterwards that he had us sighted. All safe and stress free for everyone.
I doubt it was stress free for the IFR Bonanza if he got an RA off you. I had an RA about 6000hrs ago and I still remember it quite clearly
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Old 23rd Oct 2014, 10:12
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Gerry. Sounds like the most amateurish and complicated way of keeping aircraft apart.

In the USA the IFR aircraft would have been in class E and could have simply requested a vector away from the VFR aircraft.

Of course not possible in Aus as both aircraft were in un- controlled airspace.

As I said - amateurish - but CASA will resist any update to class E as per the Government NAS policy - because we have always had class G ! Minds set in concrete.
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Old 23rd Oct 2014, 10:30
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Another thought. In the USA, how does an overflying pilot know when to change to 126.7 if there is no way of him knowing that he is about to fly through the circuit of a strip?
In UK we have "safetycom" (135.475) for operating at locations with no allocated frequency of their own. In many cases it's pointless calling, because even if another pilot hears the call from an aircraft lifting from an unmarked strip (or helicopter landing place), it may mean nothing to him. If the place in question isn't on aviation charts he might well not recognise the name or the relevance. He may also hear irrelevant and distracting calls from other aircraft operating many miles away. We usually have other more relevant (or mandatory) frequencies to monitor.
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Old 23rd Oct 2014, 10:31
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Personally I think the risk to jet traffic is virtually nil, so the proposed media release has the feel of crying wolf to me. If blocked transmissions is really a problem then combining frequencies and competing with new IFR students making reports etc. is a much bigger issue.

I see it as an occasional annoyance for ATC than a serious risk, and if it becomes a problem they have the ability to deal with it.

The risk of collision between someone using such a strip and passing traffic is also miniscule.

The only real risk of collision is between aircraft trying to use the same strip (or in some cases strips in close proximity). This means that the only people who really need to hear the transmissions are those people - but people using the same strip DO need to be on the same frequency. A dedicated frequency makes perfect sense for this - the area frequency does not.

The real risk from the change is that many (I suspect most) will keep using 126.7, and will be on a different frequency from anyone following the CASA rule.

I know that there are a lot of unmarked strips in the area where I fly. I have spoken to a few people who fly out of them. My conclusion is that:
  • Many make no calls because it is their own private strip and nobody else is likely to be using it
  • Some make calls on 126.7
  • Some I suspect used to make calls on 126.7 but now will make no calls
  • Nobody makes calls on area
Most of the people with unmarked strips don't want them marked or the location generally known. Apparently there are some ATOs who view a private strip as an ideal place to test precautionary search procedures, but the owners are less than enthusiastic about 50' passes over their backyards. I couldn't tell you whether the ATO/student announced their intentions on the area frequency...
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