Recommendation R20020080

Recommendation issued to: AirServices Australia

Recommendation details
Output No: R20020080
Date issued: 03 July 2002
Safety action status:


Tamworth airport has two parallel runways that are 760 metres apart. Runways 12L and 30R are each serviced by a straight-in instrument approach procedure. There are no instrument approach procedures to either runway 12L or 30R. Those runways are for use by single engine circuit training aircraft and for arrivals and departures by aircraft operating under visual flight rules (VFR).

The Tamworth control zone is classified as Class D airspace. Pilots of aircraft that operate in Class D airspace require an air traffic control clearance and are required to maintain two-way communications with air traffic control (ATC).

Air traffic controllers in Class D airspace are required to separate aircraft operating under instrument flight rules (IFR) from other IFR aircraft and provide a separation service between IFR aircraft and VFR aircraft. Controllers are also required to provide traffic information to pilots operating under the VFR 'in respect of all other flights' in accordance with the Manual of Air Traffic Services (MATS). Tamworth ATC provides a procedural control service because Tamworth controlled airspace is beyond radar coverage.

Tamworth ATC uses separate aerodrome controllers (ADCs) to facilitate simultaneous independent contra-rotating circuit operations, and arrivals and departures to the parallel runways. The procedure relies on the ADCs monitoring aircraft onto the final approach path of the runway under their respective control and providing an alert to the other ADC of potential conflicts. There is no information exchanged by the two ADC's about approaching aircraft to ensure that a procedural separation standard is maintained until visual separation can be applied between specific aircraft tracking for different, but parallel, runways and on separate radio frequencies. The ADC's expect that aircraft operating to the parallel runway will remain no closer to their respective circuit than the adjacent runway centre-line. Traffic information is only provided when an aircraft strays, or appears likely to stray, into the other runway approach path or circuit airspace.

MATS Section 4.8.3 states that 'Simultaneous Parallel Operations by fixed wing aircraft of more than one landing/take-off path in the same direction on the one aerodrome is permissible if, the paths proposed to be used are treated as one runway for separation purposes. The suitability of a landing area for simultaneous parallel operations by fixed wing aircraft and the associated control procedures shall be established in consultation with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.'

Separation standards are infringed when two or more aircraft are assigned the same altitude and a lateral separation standard is not applied, regardless of the runway or ATC frequency being used, unless traffic information is provided in accordance with the procedures in MATS for operations in class D airspace.

Visual separation cannot be applied between an aircraft under the control of one ADC and another aircraft under the control of another ADC, about which that controller has no specific details, and where controllers are operating on separate radio frequencies.

The use of simultaneous parallel runway operations at Tamworth does not comply with MATS Section 4.8.3 because controllers are not treating the parallel landing and take-off paths as one runway (see ATSB occurrence number BO/200102901).

Output text

Safety Recommendation

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau recommends that Airservices Australia ensure that procedures for parallel runway operations at Tamworth are in compliance with the Manual of Air Traffic Services.

Initial response
Date issued: 27 November 2002
Response from: AirServices Australia
Action status: Open
Response text:
ATSB response:

ATSB Note: Airservices Australia sent an e-mail which contained a draft procedural change and detailed attachments. The Bureau was invited to make comment on the proposals.

Further correspondence
Date issued: 02 December 2002
Response from: AirServices Australia
Response status: Monitor
Response text:

Airservices accepts this recommendation.

This recommendation relates to parallel runway operations at Class D towers specifically Tamworth. Airservices Australia has been working with the Department of Defence, joint author of the Manual of Air Traffic Control, to develop appropriate procedures and then manage their implementation. On 17th of October, the group met with the ATC staff at Tamworth and local operators outlining the solution strategy and discussing implementation. Requests for change have been drafted for AIP and MATS following this input. The aim is to implement the proposed changes at the next MATS AIRAC date, ie. 17th April 2003.

If you have any queries on these responses, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Further correspondence
Date issued: 30 March 2005
Response from: AirServices Australia
Response status: Closed - Accepted
Response text:

Resolution of this recommendation has been achieved through the publication of Tamworth specific parallel runway operations procedures, within the ATC Operations Manual Volume 2-Tamworth Tower (Local Instructions), and within the Tamworth section of AIP ERSA. These procedures are in effect however are currently published by Temporary Local Instruction (AS/05/017) and NOTAM (C21l05) pending the next available Aeronautical Information Regulation and Control (AIRAC) date.

Last update 03 April 2012