An ATSB Research report has found that pilot workload was perceived as being higher, and reported losses of situational awareness were more common, with the area navigation global navigation satellite system [RNAV (GNSS)] approach like the one being flown by the crew of the 15-fatality aircraft at Lockhart River on 7 May 2005, compared with all other approach types except the non-directional beacon (NDB) approach, which involved similar workload and situational awareness levels.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has made a number of recommendations to enhance the safety of RNAV (GNSS) approaches including to Airservices Australia for a review of waypoint naming conventions for the purpose of improving readability and contributing to situational awareness; and a review of approaches with segment lengths different from the 5 nautical mile optimum and/or with multiple segment steps.

ATSB recommendations to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority include further research to better understand factors affecting pilot workload and situational awareness during the RNAV (GNSS) approach.

The ATSB has today also dispatched copies of its confidential draft final report on the Lockhart River accident to directly involved parties. This is to enable checking of the accuracy of more than 400 pages of the report and appendices and to ensure natural justice. In accordance with international convention, directly involves parties have up to 60 days to comment before the ATSB reviews comments and finalises the report for public release.

The research report (Perceived Pilot Workload and Perceived Safety of RNAV (GNSS) Approaches) can be downloaded from the ATSB internet.

Media contact: 1800 020 616
Last update 01 April 2011

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