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Mode Aviation
Reference No. AR201400111
Date reported 02 December 2014
Concern title The proposal with the council to allow a second gliding club on the airfield
Concern summary

The concern related to how the proposal to allow a second gliding club to operate on the airfield was being handled by the relevant authorities.

Industry / Operation affected Aviation: General aviation
Concern subject type Aviation: Airport

Reporter's concern

The reporter expressed a safety concern regarding the application to have two gliding clubs operating at the airfield.

The reporter advised that the airfield has a 750 m grass strip, which has a narrow taxiway. This airfield is already home to a busy gliding club along with general aviation, ultralights and helicopters. The established gliding club operates a tug aircraft, an auto-tow (using a vehicle) glider launch and motor gliders.

The reporter advised that the Gliding Federation of Australia (GFA) had provided a supportive letter to the Council for the operation of a proposed second glider operator at the airfield. The GFA advised the Council that an operation check had been completed on safety at the airfield but no operations or safety audit has actually been completed.

The reporter also advised that the council was advised by GFA that there were many examples of gliding sites with multiple operations / clubs operating effectively, but no examples were given of an airfield with a similar traffic mix, single strip and narrow taxiway which operates successfully in Australia.

The reporter expressed concern that the Council may have taken this advice from the GFA as being correct and used this as the GFA endorsement of a second gliding club operating safely without the appropriate safety audit being conducted.

Operator's response (Operator 1)

Council is actively working with all airfield users and those wishing to utilise the airfield.  The matters you have raised are already known to Council. At the present time Council has not approved access to the airfield for a second gliding club.

Operator's response (Operator 2)

The Gliding Federation of Australia Inc (GFA) advises the following.

  1. Both Gliding Clubs operating at this airfield have been subjected to Operational Safety Audits on [date] and [date] respectively, conducted by the Regional Manager Operations (RMO), in accordance with the procedures and report format in the GFA’s Manual of Standard Procedures Part 2, Operations 1.
  2. GFA is familiar with the operations at this airfield. The auditor was aware of the runway widening conducted some years ago to allow gliders to be safely retrieved along the northern side. He also did not see increased safety risks with two clubs operating with combined Standard Operating Procedures.
  3. All of GFA’s interactions with the two gliding clubs and the aerodrome owner have been safety based and objective. There has been no partiality or bias towards any party.
  4. GFA has written to the aerodrome owner, affirming its support for safe gliding operations and highlighting our requirement for combined operational procedures manual to be agreed and used by all operators at the aerodrome.
  5. An example of a combined operational procedures manual has been provided based upon multi-user operations at [location]. While this is a larger site, it is entirely relevant in terms of high traffic volume, multiple gliding clubs and other aviation operators, requirements for common single strip operations in prevailing conditions, coordination of ground movements and communications with all aircraft on a common frequency. The principles and aviation regulations upon which this manual relies should permit a suitable manual to be produced in the context of local operations.
  6. Both gliding clubs are required to satisfy GFA operational regulations and safety requirements.

GFA continues to liaise with officers from both gliding clubs to facilitate safe combined operations.

Regulator's response (Regulator 1)

The Gliding Federation of Australia (GFA) conducts the administration of certain functions on behalf of CASA and they are considered to be the subject matter experts in this regard. All operations involving gliders must occur under the requirements of Civil Aviation Order 95.4 and as such are accountable to the GFA and through them to CASA.

There are some other sites within Australia whereby multiple gliding clubs may operate from one aerodrome and as long as all the operations are conducted in accordance with the requirements of the GFA Operational Regulations, and are provided oversight, as in this instance by the GFA, then CASA has no objections to two clubs operating from the same airfield. CASA does not believe that at this point any further safety related audit or assessment need be conducted by CASA outside of the GFA assessment of the proposal.

ATSB comment

The GFA has provided the following statement in relation to this concern:

Gliding has been safely conducted at the airfield since 1984, and the requirements at paragraph 18.4 of the GFA Manual of Standard Procedures have already been established. The local Council has confirmed to you that it is actively working with all airfield users and those wishing to utilise the airfield, and GFA remains hopeful of a mutually acceptable local resolution.

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Last update 15 May 2015