AIR TRANSPORT in remote and regional Australia is set to be transformed by a new satellite positioning technology currently being trialled by Geoscience Australia. 

The aviation trial is one of 25 currently being run across the country.

Airservices is leading the Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS) project on behalf of the aviation industry, fitting SBAS technology into aircraft and testing it across regional Australia.

An operational SBAS would improve safety by guiding pilots with greater accuracy, especially those flying into regional aerodromes operating under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR). SBAS technology provides accurate guidance for landing procedures at regional aerodromes where ground infrastructure may not be as advanced as that used at larger airports. 

Geoscience Australia's SBAS project manager, John Dawson said SBAS-assisted aircraft approaches were eight times safer than those that use ground-based navigation aids.

“This could mean a pilot can now attempt a landing without visuals down to 200 feet,” Dr Dawson said.

“The safety and efficiency benefits this technology provides will result in fewer flights being cancelled or diverted, and can also reduce the number of landing attempts flights may need to make during poor weather.”

This will be of particular benefit to services like the Royal Flying Doctor Service, which provides emergency medical transport and primary health care to rural and remote Australia, and often needs to undertake landings in varying weather conditions and at small, remote airfields and other locations where infrastructure and technology is limited.

Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Matt Canavan, Geoscience Australia CEO James Johnson, and Airservices Australia CEO Jason Harfield, hosted an event at Canberra International Airport in April to demonstrate the technology to representatives from the aviation industry and media.

The event provided an opportunity for pilots to talk about how the technology would help Australian aviation. Aircraft present at the event included the Toll Air Ambulance, used for patient rescue, retrieval and treatment, in communities in New South Wales and the ACT, and an aircraft used by the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

The aviation component of the trial will test two technologies: first and second generation SBAS.

Airservices Australia will receive up to $310,000 in funding from the Australian and New Zealand Governments to trial the technology.

The broader two-year SBAS trial program includes projects in the agriculture, construction, consumer and utilities, resources, spatial and transport industries. It is being funded with $12 million from the Australian Government and a further $2 million from the New Zealand Government.

www.airservicesaustralia.com

www.ga.gov.au

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LEADERS of Australia’s General Aviation (GA) Advisory Group has presented a plan to the Federal Government to help ensure the sector’s future, highlighting three priority areas.

Priorities are to develop a broad long term strategic perspective for GA; propose how air safety regulation can support GA through clear, consistently applied, and proportionally responsive administration; and maintain and enhance GA industry capability, through workforce development and access to airspace and infrastructure. 

GA Advisory Group chair and Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia CEO, Martin Laverty said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Michael McCormack had “given the GA Advisory Group freedom to identify our own opportunities for growth and to present its ideas on solutions to some of our challenges”.

Mr McCormack received the General Aviation Flight Plan from sector leaders in Canberra.

“The GA Advisory Group was established by the then-Minister Darren Chester in October 2016, to provide the very diverse GA sector with a forum to advise the government on its priorities,” Mr McCormack said.

“I welcome the establishment of the GA Flight Plan and I have asked the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) to work with the Group in responding to these priorities.

“To ensure the group is able to complete the work outlined in the GA Flight Plan, the group’s membership and operations will continue for a further two years and I look forward to working constructively with the Group during this period.”

Dr Laverty thanked the Deputy Prime Minister for his strong backing of the GA industry.

“He has welcomed the Flight Plan, which addresses critical issues of regulatory burden and ensuring sufficient workforce to keep Australians flying,” Dr Laverty said.

CASA CEO and director of Aviation Safety, Shane Carmody welcomed the opportunity to work closely with the GA Advisory Group and to strengthen the safety regulator’s ties with GA.

“I’m pleased to have met with the GA Advisory Group, and to plan to use it as an ongoing reference group on safety regulatory issues relating to the GA sector,” Mr Carmody said.

www.infrastructure.gov.au

www.casa.gov.au

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ARCHERFIELD Airport plans to celebrate its 20th year since privatisation with free landing fees throughout July.

Brisbane's metropolitan airport south of the CBD, which at one stage was Queensland's major airport and Australia's largest air base during World War Two, is today one of the country's leading pilot and aviation industry training centres. 

In 1934, Archerfield was the take-off point for the first west-east crossing of the Pacific by Sir Charles Kingsford Smith and Captain P.G. Taylor in the Lady Southern Cross, a single-engined Lockheed Altair monoplane. 

The private company Archerfield Airport Corporation was established to control the airport in 1998 when the Federal Government privatised airport operations Australia-wide.

"This year, Archerfield Airport celebrates 20 years of privatisation and to thank tenants, airport operators and pilots for their support, next month is Free Fly July at the airport," Archerfield Airport general manager Heather Mattes said.
 
"Archerfield Airport Corporation (AAC) will not charge landing fees throughout the month of July.

"Through this gesture, AAC trusts that Free Fly July is a practical way to acknowledge the many years of co-operative partnership we have enjoyed with our airport community and a further contribution to promoting General Aviation in Queensland."

www.archerfield airport.com.au

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BRISBANE’s metropolitan airport, Archerfield, has been awarded the Corporate Project of the Year award by the Australian Airports Association (AAA) for its airspace optimisation project.

The AAA award recognises project innovation that provides major benefits to an airport’s operations. The Archerfield Airspace Optimisation Project was instigated by the management team at Archerfield Airport Corporation (AAC) and Keith Tonkin of Aviation Projects, who was engaged by AAC to implement the various project phases.
 
The project involved significant upgrading of the airport’s airspace and flight procedures, enabling more efficient and safer operation of all aircraft up to performance category C, flying at up to 140 knots.   
AAC general manager, Heather Mattes said the improvements would ensure that AAC meets increasing demand from operators of the larger, higher performance aircraft that currently operate from the airport.

“Archerfield Airport will be able to support aircraft operations under instrument meteorological conditions, 24 hours a day, before and after the commissioning of Brisbane Airport’s new parallel runway,” Ms Mattes said. “Improvements completed to date include new straight-in instrument approaches to runway 10L for up to performance category C aircraft, less restrictive standard instrument departure ceiling and visibility requirements, adding a broadcast capability to the automatic weather station and a webcam that live streams the current weather situation at the airport.”

Ms Mattes said the project continues to be rolled out in 2018.

New initiatives include optimising the existing approach to runway 28R; upgrading the approach to runway 10L for use by performance category C aircraft; implementing and protecting category C circling areas; introducing Baro-VNAV approaches to runway 10L/28R – due for flight validation in February – and measures such as reducing airport obstacles and protection of the airspace.

THE recent abolition of the 457 Visa by the Federal Government – replaced by a new Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visa – has had unintended consequences in the aviation industry through a looming shortage of pilots.

Australian aviation has suffered periodic shortages of pilots ever since the mass sackings of pilots that occurred during the long pilots’ strike of late 1989 – and subsequently saw an outflow of Australian pilots to international airlines.

Australian pilots have since been recognised internationally for their skills and training – so the poaching by other international carriers has continued and led to regular pilot shortages.

Now, however, the replacement of the 457 Visa with the TSS in March is causing bigger headaches.

The flow-on effect has been that pilots are poached from the Australian major national and international routes, so airlines then poach pilots from Australia’s regional routes.

Now regional areas, reliant on air travel, are feeling the pinch as schedules are changed on the fly from pilot shortages, while flights are often cancelled.

The current problems have been highlighted by regional Australian air transport group Airnorth, based out of Darwin. 

“The situation is not isolated to Airnorth or Australia, and is part of a global pilot shortage that is affecting the entire aviation industry and its customers,” the company said in a media statement. ”We continue to recruit pilots and currently have 11 positions vacant.”

The issue has already come to a head, with the Federal Government moving to revise the Skilled Occupations List, to allow for foreign pilots to come into Australia on two-year work visas.

“The Federal Government intends to make changes to the occupations list every six months which makes it so important that those reliant on recruitment of overseas employees keep abreast of the situation,” said Dessie Hristova, director at Abode Migration Lawyers. “This is just one way we can help

“In this dynamic space which is full of uncertainty seeking advice from experienced immigration lawyers is important for many reasons. As experts in the field we attend stakeholder consultations and have an understanding of the government’s proposed changes.”

Ms Hristova said discussions were afoot between Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton and the Regional Aviation Association of Australia in an effort to extend the visa to four years.

She said the reasoning behind the move was that senior pilots would not be attracted to short-term relocation to Australia and regional carriers needed to attract senior pilots to fill the roles.

www.abodemigration.com.au

www.airnorth.com.au

THE A³ arm of Airbus has completed a series of full-scale test flights by its all-electric, self-piloted vertical take-off and landing aircraft, named Vahana.

 Vahana, as reported by A³ by Airbus, reached a height of 5m before descending safely at the Pendleton UAS Range in Oregon. Its first flight, with a duration of 53 seconds, was self-piloted and the vehicle completed a second flight the following day.

The aircraft is Airbus’s innovative approach to future urban air mobility.

“Today we are celebrating a great accomplishment in aerospace innovation,” Vahana project executive Zach Lovering said. 

“In just under two years, Vahana took a concept sketch on a napkin and built a full-scale, self-piloted aircraft that has successfully completed its first flight. Our team is grateful for the support we’ve received from A³ and the extended Airbus family, as well as our partners including MTSI and the Pendleton UAS Range.”

The Vahana project is being developed at , the Silicon Valley innovation outpost of Airbus Industrie. Vahana aims to ‘democratise’ personal flight and answer the growing need for urban mobility by leveraging the latest technologies in electric propulsion, energy storage, and machine vision, according to Airbus reports.

“Vahana’s first flight demonstrates Airbus’ unique ability to pursue ambitious ideas quickly, without compromising the quality and safety for which the company is well-known,” A³ CEO and former project executive of Vahana, Rodin Lyasoff said. “For A³, it proves that we can deliver meaningful innovation with aggressive project timetables, to provide a real competitive advantage for Airbus.

“Our focus now is on celebrating the work of the tireless Vahana team while maintaining the momentum of this accomplishment.”

Founded in May 2015, A³ (pronounced ‘A-cubed’) is the advanced projects outpost of Airbus in Silicon Valley.  Mr Lyasoff said A³ concentrated on projects “centred around three traits: speed, transparency and a commitment to culminating in productisable demonstrators or demonstrators at convincing scale”.

www.vahana.aero

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AIR SERVICES Australia is preparing to install supporting infrastructure and equipment at Brisbane Airport to enable the operation of the new second runway under construction.

New aviation navigation system equipment and aviation rescue firefighting services are required to support the introduction of the new runway, an Air Services Australia spoksesperson said. 

Additional airfield equipment and infrastructure is set for installation, including navigational aids at each end of the new runway and a new fibre optic network. Civil works proposed in this project will support these installations.

Additionally a new Aviation Rescue Fire Fighting Service will be constructed to support the new runway.

The project is scheduled to be completed in line with the new runway being operational in 2020. The estimated cost of the project is $24.92 million.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works conducted public and in-camera hearings and took submissions in November.

www.aph.gov.au/pwc

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