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BNA/MNG SFIS info

Old 8th Jun 2021, 08:50
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Ballina REPCON

AR2020-00010, 24 January 2020, Airspace at and around Ballina/Byron Gateway aerodrome
Reported concern regarding inadequate and ineffective air traffic service at and around Ballina/Byron Gateway aerodrome

Reporter's concern
The reporter raised a safety concern regarding an airspace safety risk at and around Ballina/Byron Gateway aerodrome, due to the volume of traffic and frequency congestion. The reporter advises that the mix of traffic at Ballina is complex, including a high number of general aviation aircraft, microlight aircraft, helicopter operations and Regular Public Transport (RPT) jets, as well as an increase in training aircraft in recent years.

A Certified Air Ground Radio Service (CA/GRS) was introduced at Ballina in 2016 following a supplementary airspace review in 2015; however, the reporter states that the CA/GRS has not decreased the airspace risk level nor has it alleviated the CTAF congestion. The reporter states that the CA/GRS at times increase the frequency congestion.

The reporter states that communication related incidents and separation issues are becoming more frequent and is concerned a mid-air collision is imminent, with the risk of high capacity aircraft being involved, not unforeseeable, unless an enhanced air traffic service is implemented.

Operator's response (Operator 1)
The aerodrome manager agreed that there is a mix of traffic at Ballina, including general aviation aircraft, microlight aircraft, helicopter operations and RPT jets, as well as an increase during recent years in training aircraft, both rotary and fixed wing. Ballina has a new fixed wing training provider that commenced operation in the past two years and the availability of NDB/RNAV approaches attracts training aircraft, including RPT and military, in addition to private and commercial operators. These combine to make Ballina airspace and communication frequencies very congested.

The manager believes the CA/GRS has improved the airspace risk level and that the number of incidents, in the form of separation issues is low. Frequency congestion does, however, continue to be an issue at busy periods with the CA/GRS / CTAF covering five airspace regions - where the majority of traffic in these areas is private VFR. . Complaints have been registered with airport operations that the CA/GRS contributes to frequency congestion and this has been brought to the attention of the CA/GRS operator (CA/GRO) in question.

The Ballina CTAF area does experience a number of (VFR) aircraft that fail to report their position, including when required to, within the new Broadcast Area.

We have not observed a marked increase in communication and separation issues, however, we acknowledge the requirement for RPT/IFR aircraft to maintain visual contact with traffic, significantly increases the flight-deck workload on approach into Ballina. Certainly an enhanced air traffic service would minimise the risk of an incident - especially with the airport's plans for carrier and destination expansion.

Operator's response (Operator 2)
Airservices’ response:
The OAR stated Frequency issues occur between aircraft at Lismore and Ballina. Airservices

Australia are investigating options to address the issue. This refers to an action item from the

Ballina Industry Meeting on 28 August 2019. The action was for Airservices to investigate the feasibility of a VHF retransmitter between Lismore and Ballina.

We have completed a review and found no implementation of a VHF repeater service in the aviation context within Australia. For this to be achieved a first-of-type system would need to be designed and risk assessed. As the identified communication issues surrounding Ballina involve frequencies on which we do not provide a service, the aerodromes could investigate the suitability of a single-frequency repeater independently of Airservices Australia.

In Aeronautical Information Package (AIP) Supplement H140/19 Effective 5 December 2019, OAR state that the CTAF at Ballina, Lismore, Casino and Evans Head will remain unchanged. OAR have not approached Airservices to request a different frequency to be allocated.

Regulator's response (Regulator 1)
The Office of Airspace Regulation (OAR) regularly monitors the incidents and traffic levels at Ballina.
  • In the 12 month period (1 December 2018 – 30 November 2019) there was one (1) communication related incident and two (2) other airspace related incidents in the vicinity of the aerodrome.
  • The number of incidents have decreased from the five incidents which occurred during the previous 12 month period.
  • In two of the three recent incidents (1 December 2018 – 30 November 2019), the CA/GRS provided a service to enhance situational awareness of the inbound RPT aircraft.
At a recent Aviation Safety Seminar held at Ballina, local stakeholders were asked about the service provided by the CA/GRS. All agreed that the service is a benefit and it is working well.

Frequency issues occur between aircraft at Lismore and Ballina. Airservices Australia are investigating options to address the issue.

ATSB comment

ATSB sought clarification from the regulator following the Airservices response, the regulator’s comments below:

The OAR has not approached Airservices for a discrete frequency for Ballina as a different frequency will not solve the underlying issues. The instrument approaches for Ballina and Lismore overlap and having both aerodromes on the same frequency enhances situational awareness. It is not appropriate for aircraft to operate in close proximity to each other and be on different radio frequencies.

The main issue at Ballina relates to radio communication – aircraft not broadcasting on the Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF), over-transmissions, poor radio calls and congestion caused by aircraft at Lismore.

In December 2019, the Office of Airspace Regulation (OAR) declared a broadcast area within 10 nautical miles of Ballina aerodrome to reduce the risk related to pilot communication in the area.

The OAR monitors the traffic and incidents at Ballina aerodrome on a monthly basis. A significant change in traffic volume, mix, incidents or stakeholder feedback may trigger an airspace review by the OAR.

ATSB comment:
The ATSB has received significant feedback from several GA operators regarding airspace concerns at and around Ballina.

While the ATSB occurrence database supports the regulator’s statement that one of the underlying issues at Ballina is aircraft not broadcasting on the CTAF, the ATSB notes that communication (air-ground-air) issues are not a mandatory reportable matter under the Transport Safety Investigation Act, 2003 for non-air transport aircraft. As such, flight crews who encounter communication issues do not necessarily report them to the ATSB.

Feedback from multiple operators that regularly operate on the CTAF suggest that aircraft not broadcasting on the CTAF is usually due to the inability to make a transmission due to frequency congestion, often due to the CA/GRS.

Multiple operators have also indicated to the ATSB that while communication issues due to over use of the radio is prevalent, there is no mechanism to provide this feedback. The operators state that the Aviation Safety Seminars are not appropriate forums, due to them being facilitated by the aerodrome operator, who hold their leases; the presence of the CA/GRO’s; and no formal recording of specific concerns being raised.

Due to the volume of feedback the ATSB has received on this specific issue, the ATSB has asked CASA to consider establishing a mechanism for GA operators to provide CASA their generic concerns and/or details regarding specific incidents.

As at time of publishing, Airservices is planning on introducing enhanced traffic services, in Class G airspace, through the provision of the Surveillance Flight Information Service (SFIS) at selected regional non-towered aerodromes across Australia, including Ballina/Byron Gateway aerodrome.


sunnySA is offline  
Old 8th Jun 2021, 08:53
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You are right that there is a change to the procedures and to who receives a service, but there is no change to the service provided - it's still FIS.

If you look at the Part 172 Provider Certificate you will see that no changes are needed to run a FIS for Mangalore from ML ATSC. For example you will not find Adelaide Approach listed, they come under "Melbourne ATSC". It's just a list of the physical locations the service is provided from.
atcnews is offline  
Old 8th Jun 2021, 09:21
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According to the Senates Estimates transcript (Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee Estimates) - Tuesday, 25 May 2021, in December last year, Ballina was Australia's busiest airport. Hard to believe really given that Moorabbin recorded 21,378 movements.

The other "gem" from this committee was "a number of incidents have occurred (at Ballina), particularly over the last six months, where there have been close calls between Jetstar aircraft and hang gliders and things like that." Interestingly there is no corresponding "spike" of reported occurrences at Ballina, and what exactly are "things like that".
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Old 8th Jun 2021, 11:46
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I am of the belief that ASA are under some pressure to come up with "something" that will, in their view reduce any risks of a collision. (and of course satisfy whoever is appling the pressure for change from above) However whatever they come up with has to be approved by CASA OAR so there is a need for everyone to work together in a transparent manner with industry and wide consultation thru AvSEF (formally RAPAC). This is going to take some time as any "change" in the airspace design or procedures at specific locations (unless a class D tower) will need to be the subject of a very widespread education program. This is not going to happen overnight. ASA obviously don't have the answers or perhaps the expertise/corporate histroy to think more broadly on how it might works best without a tower.

Maybe it is time to consider a change to the regs that would permit a tower to be provided by an organisation other than ASA? That might also be more cost effective?

"Airservices is proposing to first introduce the enhanced traffic service at Ballina and Mangalore on 17 June 2021"
Maybe they got the year wrong?
triadic is online now  
Old 8th Jun 2021, 12:13
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Originally Posted by triadic View Post
Maybe it is time to consider a change to the regs that would permit a tower to be provided by an organisation other than ASA? That might also be more cost effective?
You might be right, perhaps it is time to consider this. It was an idea that was floated about 15 years ago (contestability) and AA at the time bundled all the Towers into the same Business Group, run on a shoe string, nil investment in the future, nil investment in preventative maintenance. Many a tower is still suffering from the neglect.
Deloittes
It could be that rather than being cost effective it might be a better, more customer focused service, or led to divergent and non-standard practices across the country.

Originally Posted by triadic View Post
Maybe they got the year wrong?
Nope, 17/6/21 is a Thursday which is the normal day for the introduction of or the updating of aeronautical databases.
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Old 8th Jun 2021, 12:22
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missy, yes know that practice, however what I was eluding to is that it is now not very likely to occur this year, given all the boxes that need to be ticked.......

Last edited by triadic; 9th Jun 2021 at 04:08.
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Old 9th Jun 2021, 05:15
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atcnews seems to me to be suggesting that no further boxes need to be ticked, because Airservices is already allowed to provide a FIS for Mangalore from ML ATSC. Not sure how that can also be so for the “change to the procedures and to who receives” the FIS.

Perhaps atcnews can expand/clarify?
Lead Balloon is offline  
Old 9th Jun 2021, 05:25
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Well seeing as the SFIS has been ‘shelved’ for now at BNA the latest option allegedly being explored (as I heard and understood it) is a ‘remote tower’ either being done by controllers from the Gold Coast tower or from the Airservices national operations cell.

This remote tower will have associated class C and E above, similar to YCFS. Watch this space I guess
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Old 10th Jun 2021, 01:29
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See this link for further info: https://consultation.casa.gov.au/sta...eq-congestion/
triadic is online now  
Old 10th Jun 2021, 14:28
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https://engage.airservicesaustralia....mation-service

Draft AIP-SUP now on above link.
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Old 11th Jun 2021, 03:14
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In order to reduce residual airspace risk
What exactly does this mean? Is anyone able to qualify what the residual risk that is being mitigated?
sunnySA is offline  
Old 12th Jun 2021, 01:16
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Have heard that for BNA at least, delayed till mid August AIRAC date at this stage.

Much to be done by Airservices before then.
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Old 12th Jun 2021, 08:03
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A FIS in a FIA. What are the chances this gets expanded as a real good idea.
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Old 12th Jun 2021, 10:54
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Back in the days of Flight Service we had an AFIZ and they worked well as there was only one frequency (no CTAF). The biggest problem now would be controllers providing a service and not trying to control.
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Old 13th Jun 2021, 01:04
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Originally Posted by cogwheel View Post
Back in the days of Flight Service we had an AFIZ and they worked well as there was only one frequency (no CTAF). The biggest problem now would be controllers providing a service and not trying to control.
BUT, back in the day, when an aerodrome with an AFIZ got too busy, they put a TWR in ie Albury, Broome etc. That's off the table now, and they don't really have a viable alternative.
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Old 13th Jun 2021, 03:07
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Originally Posted by Traffic_Is_Er_Was View Post
BUT, back in the day, when an aerodrome with an AFIZ got too busy, they put a TWR in ie Albury, Broome etc. That's off the table now, and they don't really have a viable alternative.
Then safety isn't the prime objective.
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Old 13th Jun 2021, 04:04
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Originally Posted by sunnySA View Post
What exactly does this mean? Is anyone able to qualify what the residual risk that is being mitigated?
In the 2017 CASA OAR supplementary study of Ballina, Paragraph 6.6 is entitled Safety Assessment. This contains two statements:

6.6.1 Analysis of aerodrome activity at BBGA determined that the risk to airspace users in the BBGA area was highest between 0800 and1800 hrs which primarily covers daylight hours.

6.6.2 The likelihood of a safety incident between two aircraft after 1800 hrs was assessed as extremely low because all passenger transport movements are separated by time in their flight schedules and there are very few airspace users around BBGA after 1800 hrs.


Maybe the “residual airspace risk” is the delta between “extremely low” and “vanishingly small” or “zero”?
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Old 13th Jun 2021, 05:04
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6.6.2 The likelihood of a safety incident between two aircraft after 1800 hrs was assessed as extremely low because all passenger transport movements are separated by time in their flight schedules
Separated by time in their flight schedules!! International best practice!!
No allowance for diversions, air returns, additional non-scheduled traffic such as air ambulance.

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Old 13th Jun 2021, 14:41
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Just saw this on the ATSB

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) is investigating a separation issue involving two aircraft, a Moorabbin Aviation Services PA-44-180 and a Babcock Mission Critical Services AW139 above Mangalore Airport, Victoria on 6 June 2021.

At 1556, the AW139 was flying southbound toward Mangalore at 3,100 feet above mean sea level. At the same time, the PA-44 was conducting a practice instrument approach to Mangalore. The PA-44 commenced a missed approach from below 3,000 feet in a northerly direction toward Mangalore and the pilot broadcast that the aircraft would climb to 3,900 feet. Shortly after the PA-44 began climbing, the pilot of the AW139 received a traffic collision and avoidance (TCAS) alert and manoeuvred the aircraft to increase separation between the two aircraft. Both flights continued without further incident.

The evidence collection phase of the investigation will include reviewing recorded communications, air traffic control surveillance data and weather information and interviews with the flight crews.

A final report will be released at the conclusion of the investigation. Should a critical safety issue be identified during the course of the investigation, the ATSB will immediately notify relevant parties so that appropriate safety action can be taken.
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Old 15th Jun 2021, 05:05
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But they are outside controlled airspace. What are the standards which the "separation issue" has breached?
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