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Separation assurance with the northbound Dash 8 was lost when the crew of the southbound Dash 8 was assigned a non-standard flight level. The conflict would have been avoided had a standard level been assigned.

The Australian Advanced Air Traffic System provided several conflict recognition tools for use by controllers although none were used on this occasion. Such use may have brought the conflict to the attention of the controller prior to activation of the STCA.

Specific reference to the non-standard level of the southbound Dash 8 in the handover/takeover may have assisted with conflict recognition in advance of the need for avoiding action.

The use of the direct track created an opposite direction conflict with aircraft on the Gladstone -MLY track and eliminated the safeguard provided by segregated routes. Despite that, the BUR controller was not required to coordinate the direct track prior to the northbound Dash 8 entering KPL/LMA airspace. The KPL/LMA controller may have recognised the conflict had coordination been provided on the northbound Dash 8 prior to transfer of control.

Effective scanning by the KPL/LMA controller following the handover/takeover may have enabled the controller to identify the confliction. Controllers need to use scanning techniques that allow them to continually assess the changing traffic pattern for actual and potential conflictions. The effectiveness of the KPL/LMA controller's scanning technique may have been affected by:

  1. His unsuccessful attempt to relax during his short holiday,
  2. The early start time of the shift given his preference to sleep until mid morning, and
  3. The sequencing discussion and subsequent actions.

The controller's concentration levels may have also been low due to the relatively low traffic levels at the time of the occurrence.

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