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Oakey Aerodrome Airspace

Old 23rd Jul 2021, 02:09
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Oakey Aerodrome Airspace

The ADF at Oakey has advised through AVSef that they will reduce the upper level of the associated airspace to 6,000 feet. This airspace consists of a so-called Military Control Zone and Restricted Areas. I believe that the aerodrome is used to train Australian and foreign military helicopter pilots.
My response to the AVSef request for comments <https://www.avsef.gov.au/qld-proposed-change-internal-divisions-oakey-ctr-and-r654ab> is reproduced below. Your comments are welcome:

Dear Flight Commander,

While I do not object to the ADF returning 2500 feet of airspace to civilian use, I do query why the ADF still needs so much airspace to train helicopter pilots.

The training of helicopter pilots is conducted at many civilian aerodromes, the majority of which, if they are controlled, consist of small Class D control zones coupled with "Training Areas", which are declared Danger Areas.
If CASA OAR believes that this arrangement is "fit for purpose" (a phrase they use often in airspace reviews) for civilians, then why does the training of military helicopter pilots require the vast amount of airspace that is in place at Oakey? Are they less competent than their civilian counterparts or does the ADF encourage them not to keep a lookout for other aircraft? I would have thought that was a basic skill for a military pilot.

Another issue that needs rectification is the use of the term "Military Control Zone". The Airspace Act and Regulations do not give CASA OAR the power to create such airspace. They may declare an aerodrome as controlled and they may determine the airspace class. They may also declare P, R, and D areas for the military, but neither of these includes a red-dotted "Military" Control Zone, or the ability of the ADF to include the airspace Class C on charts. The airspace should either be a Control Zone with a CASA declared airspace class, or a Restricted Area with a level of service remark in ERSA. The latter would give the ADF the ability to vary the class of service as detailed in ERSA, the former does not.

I suggest that the Army starts training helicopter pilots in real-world airspace conditions, and that Oakey airspace be reduced to the same "fit for purpose" dimensions in which their civilian colleagues are required to train.
This would also restore the "equitable access" requirement which is contained in both the nationally applicable Airspace Act and Regulations.

Kind Regards

Geoff Fairless

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Old 23rd Jul 2021, 03:13
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Yes I imagine that learning to fly a MRH or ARH is EXACTLY the same as learning to fly an R-22.
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Old 23rd Jul 2021, 03:17
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The submission reads like it was written by RHS .....

Hmm
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Old 23rd Jul 2021, 05:07
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Do we know where the AH64s are going yet? Be thankful that they’re giving and not taking!
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Old 23rd Jul 2021, 07:46
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Somewhere between Buckley’s and none
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Old 23rd Jul 2021, 11:34
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Why 6000ft upper limit. The E base there is A085. Not sure if the following relates only to "control area" or to both CTA and "Control Zones"? If applicable the upper limit should be either A055 or A065.

Makes one ask why the base of Class A is FL180 and not FL185


ICAO Annex 11 (Chapter 2.11.3 Control areas) states:

2.11.3.3 An upper limit of a control area shall be established when either:
  1. air traffic control service will not be provided above such upper limit; or
  2. the control area is situated below an upper control area, in which case the upper limit shall coincide with the lower limit of the upper control area.
When established, such upper limit shall coincide with a VFR cruising level of the tables in Appendix 3 to Annex 2.
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Old 24th Jul 2021, 02:37
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Triadic - You highlight again, as I try to do, the chaotic nature of our national airspace
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Old 25th Jul 2021, 01:03
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Originally Posted by Piston_Broke View Post
The submission reads like it was written by RHS .....

Hmm
Geoff was a controller in Brisbane when I worked there. Don't remember a RHS, so I think they are two different people.
Apologies may due to one of them or both of them.
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Old 25th Jul 2021, 03:27
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Makes one ask why the base of Class A is FL180 and not FL185
RHS will tell you that it is because that is what it is in the USA. Chaotic indeed.

Yes I imagine that learning to fly a MRH or ARH is EXACTLY the same as learning to fly an R-22.
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Old 25th Jul 2021, 03:49
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The full flight and mission simulators at Oakey do assist, somewhat, in the case of the MRH and ARH, and don’t need that much airspace.
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Old 26th Jul 2021, 05:31
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Originally Posted by Geoff Fairless View Post
Are they less competent than their civilian counterparts or does the ADF encourage them not to keep a lookout for other aircraft? I would have thought that was a basic skill for a military pilot.
I have no idea how much airspace helicopters need for training, and very little interest in what happens around Oakey. But since you’ve invited comments: this sort of belligerent nonsense will just ensure that you don’t get taken seriously.
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Old 26th Jul 2021, 06:18
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You really need to know how much flying they are doing to see if it warrants the space they are consuming.

Having spent the last week in RAAF East Sale airspace, I noted up to 7 PC21’s airborne at the same time, at speeds up to 300 knots. They were operating in designated segments of airspace within the training area. That level of traffic would make the Oakey airspace feel incredibly small !
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Old 26th Jul 2021, 09:12
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Fort Rucker in the USA, and the surrounding 5 airfields, has the highest concentration of (at least western-world) military helicopters used for training. Around 600 helicopters at most times, plus a mix of other aircraft. Most of the surrounding airspace is designated as an "Alert Area".

This is a link to the VFR Chart. Here is a link to the definition of Alert Area.

It may be that military helicopter pilots and the pilots of associated supporting fixed wing aircraft in the USA are able to deal with the stress of the possibility that there may be random, unidentified Cessna 172s and equivalent threats in the air with them. One wonders how they've managed to survive as a super power.
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Old 4th Aug 2021, 22:51
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What is the issue that you are trying to address here with this post?
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Old 4th Aug 2021, 22:53
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RHS? Rectangular Hollow Steel?
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Old 5th Aug 2021, 02:04
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FPDO - Thank you for asking, the answer is in two parts, although both involve the CASA OAR:

First I noticed while working for CASA that OAR had very little expertise in airspace matters and tended consistently to favour the status quo. This led them to continue to turn a blind eye to airspace designations that they had no power to authorise. One of those was the declaration of Restricted Airspace outside of Australian 12 NM territorial waters, another is the Oakey so-called "Military Control Zone".

Secondly, it became apparent during my own work at CASA, how inefficient the airspace was when large volumes of military Restricted Areas are superimposed on airspace that might otherwise be available for commercial and private use. This was exacerbated by a military organisation that treated the R Areas as belonging to them, as opposed to being a national asset that was active when needed and inactive when not (flexible use of airspace).

There are remedies for both of these issues that should not inhibit the valuable work of our defence forces. However, they involve a change of mindset, more flexibility on the part of the military, and some expenditure on ATC equipment to keep the airspace acceptably safe. You only have to look to the US and Europe to see how it could be done.


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Old 5th Aug 2021, 05:01
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Originally Posted by Geoff Fairless View Post
<snip>
This led them to continue to turn a blind eye to airspace designations that they had no power to authorise. One of those was the declaration of Restricted Airspace outside of Australian 12 NM territorial waters, another is the Oakey so-called "Military Control Zone".
<snip>
With reference to DAH and I assume the relevant determination instrument the Oakey, Williamtown etc.CTRs are legally declared as Control Zones, no reference to Military CTR.

The references and symbology for the latter are on charts, I assume to indicate to pilots that they are different to civil CTRs with respect to the type of traffic therein and the fact that they are managed by military (RAAF) ATCs. I don't see a problem with that.

some expenditure on ATC equipment to keep the airspace acceptably safe. You only have to look to the US and Europe to see how it could be done.
In the early days of the "NAS" I recall Defence looked at changing many "R" areas to MOA, which in the U.S. I believe require the user to have radar surveillance of such areas. The cost to Defence to do so with the installation of new surveillance equipment and ATC or other personnel was high. As part of the exercise they looked at obtaining surveillance feeds from Airservices, but in many cases there was not the required low level coverage of the airspace.
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Old 5th Aug 2021, 06:15
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Originally Posted by FPDO View Post
RHS? Rectangular Hollow Steel?
How about Richard (Dick) H. Smith.
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Old 5th Aug 2021, 06:25
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Why is it that when someone writes something sensible and rational on this site I am blamed for it?
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Old 5th Aug 2021, 11:16
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Captain Midnight, you state:
With reference to DAH and I assume the relevant determination instrument the Oakey, Williamtown etc.CTRs are legally declared as Control Zones, no reference to Military CTR.
The references and symbology for the latter are on charts, I assume to indicate to pilots that they are different to civil CTRs with respect to the type of traffic therein and the fact that they are managed by military (RAAF) ATCs. I don't see a problem with that.


CM, you are correct, in the DAH, CASA OAR has authorised a Control Zone Class C, no reference, as you correctly state to a Military CTR. According to the Airspace Act and Regulations, the operating agency (ADF or Airservices) does not have the authority to change to Class D, as the ADF does for military traffic. If they want to do that then they should ask for a Restricted Area. This enables them to provide whatever "service" they choose. (See Nowra as a comparison) You mention charts as if they are authoritative documents. Charts are like all other non-regulatory documents, they are required to reflect the regulations. Airservices and the ADF simply do not have the authority to publish something on a chart that is different from the authority granted by CASA, and whether the controllers wear air force pyjamas or T-shirts and jeans is also not mentioned in the regulations.

While you "don't see a problem with that" I regret that I do.
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