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Temporary Restricted Area management processes

Issue number: AO-2012-047-SI-01
Who it affects: All aircraft operators
Issue owner: Airservices Australia
Operation affected: Aviation: Airspace management
Background: Investigation Report AO-2012-047
Date: 28 February 2014

Safety issue description

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.

Recommendation

Action organisation: Airservices Australia
Action number: AO-2012-047-SR-031
Date: 21 February 2014
Action status: Released

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau recommends that Airservices Australia take further safety action to address the processes for managing a Temporary Restricted Area to effectively ensure that all aircraft operating in a Temporary Restricted Area are known to air traffic services.

Correspondence

Date received: 27 May 2014
Response from: Airservices Australia
Action status: Monitor
Response text:

Airservices Australia was provided with an advance copy of the final report, including this recommendation, on 21 February 2014. On 27 February 2014, Airservices advised:

Airservices would like to provide the following additional information on our safety actions to strengthen the relevant system, process, accountabilities and training to address this safety issue.

1. The AIDC [ATS Inter-facility Data Coordination] Operational Trial with Makassar Centre was reinstated in first Quarter 2013, after reliability issues were addressed. This provides AIDC messaging between Brisbane Centre and Ujung Pandang FIR [Flight Information Region]. This messaging allows the TAAATS system to automatically coordinate flight plans and aircraft movement advice. This enables relevant controllers, including the Contingency Response Manager (CRM), downstream controllers and controllers resuming normal services, to have accurate flight data information without the need for manual intervention.

A coordinated TAAATS flight plan provides identification of aircraft present in the TRA and downstream from the TRA. AIDC messaging now occurs between Brisbane and Melbourne FIRs and the following list of neighbours:

  • Melbourne  - Ujung Pandang, Jakarta, Male, Mauritius, Johannesburg and Auckland
  • Brisbane - Oakland, Nadi, Ujung Pandang, Jakarta, East Timor, Port Moresby and Auckland.

2.   The Enroute Contingency Plan template … has been updated which will ensure that all the issues identified in the section titled 'Missed opportunities' are addressed. Specifically the template has:

  • clarified and expanded on the accountabilities, responsibilities and requirements of the CRM (or Operations Room Manager (ORM)) with respect to coordinating with affected agencies.
  • clarified the accountability for communication with Airlines assigned to the ORM. Potential communications issues such as lack of contact are required to be recorded in the Response Checklist. This provides the CRM with information on potential risks to managing the Contingency Airspace.
  • contained a specific briefing sheet for Foreign ANSPs [Air Navigation Service Providers], including:
    • instruction for the ANSP to use phraseology "contact HF at least 30 minutes prior to FIR boundary to provide estimate for FIR boundary and flight level"
  • contained a specific briefing sheet for FWI (UAS HF)
    • the requirement  for FlightWatch International (FWI) to coordinate received estimates and levels with the Contingency Response Manager on (telephone number)
    • suggested phraseologies to aircraft.
    • specific instructions on frequency management

3.  The ADS-B mandate effective from 12 December 2013 requires all aircraft operating at or above FL 290 (excluding those categorised as State aircraft) to be ADS-B equipped. The mandate will ensure that all aircraft operating in the TRA at or above FL 290 are known to the system.

4.   Strengthened Contingency Response Manager (CRM) training has covered specific actions regarding the management of aircraft in the TRA or aircraft that could potentially enter the TRA. The CRM is required to undertake actions to determine aircraft in the TRA at time of activation and to determine which aircraft have flight planned to enter the TRA. The CRM is responsible for developing a specific action plan and relaying this plan and required actions to affected surrounding units.

5.   The ICAO Asia Pacific Regional Contingency Plan Task Force (RACP/TF) has been tasked with reviewing the current status of ATM [air traffic management] Contingency Plans and the contingency preparedness  of Asia and Pacific Region States. It will also identify areas where ATM contingency planning requires improvement, and to make recommendations on those areas of improvement.

ICAO describes three levels of contingency with Level 2 arrangements being those which may or will impact on neighbouring ANSPs (inter-regional).

Level 2 Contingency Plans will be agreed and referenced within the operational Letters of Agreement [LOA]with neighbouring ANSP's this year. These LOAs will be following a standard ICAO template to reduce confusion.

Airservices is intending to conduct a review of the effectiveness of the safety actions mentioned above and in our initial response dated 30 November 2013. We will formally respond to ATSB on the outcome of this review and our confirmed position relating to ATSB's recommendations in accordance with the instructions outlined in your letter dated 21 February 2014.

Date received: 30 May 2014
Response from: Airservices Australia
Action status: Closed
Response text:

On 30 May 2014, Airservices provided additional safety action information and stated, in addition to previously advised safety action:

The Enroute Contingency Plan template has been updated to clarify the accountability for communication with aircraft operators assigned to the Contingency Response Manager CRM (or ORM) [Operations Room Manager]…

Airservices continues to participate in ICAO Asia Pacific Regional Contingency Plan Task Force (RACP/TF) to develop formalised agreement with neighbouring ANSPs to follow standardised ICAO template for contingency plans. This will further improve the communications and coordination across FIR boundaries in contingency situations which impact on neighbouring ANSPs…

The improved CRM training [see Safety Issue AO-2012-047-SI-02] now covers specific actions regarding the management of aircraft in the TRA [Temporary Restricted Area] or aircraft that could potentially enter the TRA. The training is to equip the CRM to effectively undertake actions to determine aircraft in the TRA at time of contingency plan activation and to determine which aircraft have flight planned to enter the TRA. CRMs are also trained to develop a specific action plan and relaying this plan and required actions to affected surrounding units…

An improvement since the occurrence is the change of the physical location of the workstations for Flightwatch International (FWI) officers from a separate room to being in the same room as the air traffic controllers and/or CRMs during TIBA operations. The co-location of FWI officers in the same environment where the Contingency Operation is being managed provides a further level of assurance that all ATS parties will be briefed to the same level of understanding and closely monitored for compliance.

   
Current issue status: Adequately addressed
Status justification:

The ATSB recognises Airservices' actions to address this safety issue and are satisfied that enhancements to the processes and risk controls associated with managing a Temporary Restricted Area will provide better assurance that all aircraft operating in such an area are known to air traffic services.

 
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Last update 24 June 2014