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Updated GAAP FAQ

1. Why has CASA made changes to procedures at six GAAP aerodromes?

During 2008 and 2009 CASA looked at a range of safety issues relating to GAAP aerodromes.  A number of studies and reports were completed, as well as surveillance of air traffic services.

2. Why were the changes made at this time?

The changes to procedures were an appropriate and measured response to all the information available, including the studies and reports into GAAP safety.  Extensive qualitative and quantitative analysis had already been undertaken and CASA had a duty as the regulator to take appropriate action to ensure safety standards were at an acceptable level.  The changes to procedures at the six GAAP aerodromes complement an extensive pilot education and awareness campaign that had already been initiated by CASA on key safety issues.  This campaign is covering issues such as preventing mid-air collisions, gaps in pilot knowledge about GAAP procedures and education on situational awareness.

3. Has CASA taken any other steps to improve safety at GAAP aerodromes?

In addition to the comprehensive GAAP education program, CASA held a number of workshops at GAAP aerodromes.  These covered hazard identification, advice for chief pilots and additional training for approved testing officers.  An aerodrome safety pack was produced in 2008 to enhance the knowledge of pilots on the prevention of runway incursions, particularly at GAAP aerodromes such as Bankstown, Moorabbin, Jandakot and Parafield.  Situational awareness training for pilots has improved with CASA’s requirement for the inclusion of threat and error management in the training syllabus.

4. Will the changes to procedures really have an impact on safety?

CASA has calculated the changes will reduce risks at the six GAAP aerodromes – Archerfield, Bankstown, Camden, Moorabbin, Parafield and Jandakot.  With a cap on the number of aircraft in the circuit at these locations the risk of a mid-air collision will be lowered due to the decreased density of aircraft in the GAAP airspace.  The cap on the number of aircraft in the circuit will also lower the risk of collisions at reporting points on approach to these aerodromes, as many of the aircraft outside controlled airspace originate from the GAAP aerodrome itself.  The re-introduction of the requirement to obtain an air traffic control clearance to enter, cross or taxi along any runway builds a stronger defence against runway incursions, which is a major safety issue. By June 2010 aerodrome air traffic services will be required daily for the hours of daylight without any reduction in the service currently provided during the hours of darkness.  This will improve safety by providing greater air traffic management at the six aerodromes.

5. How was the cap on circuit movements set?

The cap limits the number of aeroplanes in the circuit for one runway, controlled by one air traffic controller. This was originally set at six. After consultation with GAAP aerodrome users through a series of workshops in late 2009 this cap was raised to eight (effective 18 January 2010).  If two runways and two controllers are available then the total number of aeroplanes in the circuit is limited to 16. The figures were calculated on the average speed and rate of climb of typical training aircraft normally operating in the circuit at these six aerodromes.  In general, the effect of the cap will be to reduce the peak density of traffic, rather than to reduce the total possible number of movements.  The cap does not apply to helicopter movements.  The cap itself is considered a temporary measure while other initiatives to manage the identified risks are developed, assessed and implemented.

6. When will Class D airspace be introduced?

CASA anticipates requiring Class D air traffic services at the six GAAP aerodromes during the hours of daylight by 3 June 2010. The Class D airspace classification will be based on United States Federal Aviation Administration procedures.

7. Did CASA consult and properly notify the aviation industry about the GAAP changes?

There was considerable consultation with the relevant sections of the aviation industry during the reviews and studies carried out into GAAP operations.  Questionnaires were made available to GAAP aerodrome users including air traffic controllers, workshops were held at each aerodrome and there were meetings with key parties such as Airservices Australia, airport operators and flying schools.  A total of 264 responses were received to the questionnaire and Ambidji held hazard identification workshops at all GAAP aerodromes.  Prior to the GAAP changes being put in place, CASA wrote to all pilots announcing the package of measures and asking for feedback.  Notification of the changes was also made via visits to operators, phone calls, emails and postings on the CASA website.  Since the changes were implemented in late July 2009, CASA has held meetings with pilots and other interested parties, issued education and training material and published on-line information. A series of workshops was also held at each aerodrome to discuss the circuit cap with pilots, operators and other parties.

8. What did the review of GAAP training find?

The review by CASA of the training being provided at GAAP aerodromes found a number of issues of concern.  These included a lack of understanding of the role of air traffic control in a GAAP control zone, shortcomings in the teaching and assessment of situational awareness and a deficiency in the use of standard operating procedures.  The standardisation issues were found both within flying schools and between the GAAP aerodromes.  People involved in flying training at or near GAAP aerodromes were interviewed for the training review, with data analysed to determine the level of training in, and knowledge of, GAAP procedures.  Additionally, the degree of standardisation in the practical application of GAAP training within flying schools was assessed.  The key findings indicated a greater emphasis on teaching and assessing situational awareness is required.  The review is available on the CASA website.  CASA has already released some training and educational material, and more is being developed.