Airservices Australia’s processes for managing a Temporary Restricted Area did not effectively ensure that all aircraft operating in the Temporary Restricted Area were known to air traffic services.
Response to safety issue
Airservices Australia (Airservices) advised that:
In order to improve its management of Temporary Restricted Areas during contingency situations Airservices completed a review of its National Air Traffic Service (ATS) Contingency Plan documentation.
The following actions were undertaken as part of the review:
- The revised National ATS Contingency Plan template was developed and trialled. It is expected that affected air traffic control units will update their local contingency plans to align with the revised template by the end of March 2014.
- A Contingency Airspace- Aircraft Tracking Form has been included as part of the ATS Contingency Plan template. The form provides additional assurance that all aircraft operating in Temporary Restricted Areas are known to ATS.
In response to an ATSB request for further supporting documentation of the safety actions undertaken, Airservices advised that:
The Aircraft Tracking Form provides an explicit instruction to record aircraft transiting the contingency airspace and coordinate with the downstream controller to ensure situational awareness. The completion of this form will ensure that all aircraft operating in the Temporary Restricted Areas are known to ATS.
ATSB comment/action in response:
The ATSB is not satisfied that the action proposed and already taken by Airservices has adequately addressed the safety issue. Although the implementation of an Aircraft Tracking Form provides a means for recording known aircraft transiting the contingency airspace, the revised National ATS Contingency Plan template does not document any enhanced processes for ensuring that potentially relevant aircraft become known to relevant personnel. In order to track an aircraft, it must be known to ATC in the first place, and that was the process that was not effective in this occurrence.