A booklet released today by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) reminds pilots of their responsibilities and the precautions they need to observe around aerodromes which do not have air traffic control towers.

"Generally, operations at non-towered aerodromes can be considered to be safe," said Martin Dolan, the Chief Commissioner of the ATSB. "Continued safety relies on all pilots maintaining awareness of their surroundings and of other aircraft, and on their flying in compliance with procedures, while being observant, courteous and cooperative."

Because Australia's population is spread so widely, most aerodromes in Australia are located in uncontrolled airspace and consequently, do not have an air traffic control presence. Instead, pilots are responsible for making themselves aware of other nearby aircraft and for maintaining separation.

Between 2003 and 2008, the ATSB was notified of 709 airspace-related safety occurrences at, or in the vicinity of non-towered aerodromes. Of these, 60 were considered serious incidents (mostly near mid-air collisions) and six accidents (four mid-air and two ground collisions). The booklet, A Pilot's Guide to staying safe in the vicinity of non-towered aerodromes, provides advice to pilots on how to avoid the risks. It provides strategies for alerting other aircraft to one's presence and maintaining awareness of other aircraft.

The guide has been released in association with a larger and more detailed report into non-towered aerodrome operations, which can also be found at www.atsb.gov.au.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority has also released two important Civil Aviation Advisory Publications (CAAPs), to support recent changes to Civil Aviation Regulation 166 and reinforce safe flying practices in the vicinity of non-towered aerodromes.

Media contact: 1800 020 616
Last update 01 April 2011