Systemic Investigation into the Class G Airspace Demonstration


This report was tabled in the Australian Parliament on 23 November 1999

Class G airspace (or uncontrolled airspace) has the lowest level of service and the fewest restrictions on aircraft operations. In Australian Class G airspace, third-party directed traffic information is provided to pilots of aircraft operating under the instrument flight rules.

There have been a number of attempts to change the operation of Class G airspace since its introduction in 1995. As part of the Airspace 2000 program, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) decided to conduct a 'Class G demonstration' featuring:

  • implementation of a national advisory frequency;
  • provision of a conditional radar information service;
  • cessation of directed traffic information.

The demonstration commenced on 22 October 1998 in the airspace between Canberra and Ballina below 8,500 ft. An end date was not specified; rather, the Authority intended that the demonstration airspace procedures should be extended throughout Australia in June 1999.

The demonstration was conducted in the highest traffic density area of Class G airspace in Australia. The timing and location of the demonstration placed significant pressures on the Civil Aviation Safety Authority to ensure that consultation, safety analysis and education activities were comprehensively addressed.

Following receipt of over 70 air safety incident reports BASI concluded that a safety deficiency existed and commenced an investigation on 5 November 1998 into the systemic issues associated with the development and operation of the Class G airspace demonstration.

The Bureau identified a number of operational deficiencies that contributed to an increased safety risk for users of the demonstration airspace. Following an interim recommendation issued by BASI on 8 December 1998, the demonstration was terminated by the Authority on 13 December 1998.

In addition to the operational deficiencies already noted, a number of organisational factors adversely affected the ability of CASA to effectively manage the Class G airspace demonstration project. Moreover, the division of roles and responsibilities between CASA and Airservices Australia regarding the design and regulation of airspace was not clearly defined.

Safety deficiencies identified during the course of the investigation formed the basis for safety recommendations developed by BASI. The recommendations called for a review of program management policies and procedures for current and proposed changes to the aviation system; a review of corporate governance issues; and clarification of the roles and responsibilities of respective organisations in relation to the regulation, design and management of airspace to ensure the safety integrity of the aviation system.

A full description of these safety actions can be found in Part 4 of the complete report.

Type: Research and Analysis Report
Publication date: 14 November 1999
ISBN: 0 642 27464 9
Last update 15 March 2016
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