Aviation safety issues and actions

Procedures to establish separation assurance

Issue number: AO-2011-142-SI-01
Who it affects: All Sydney Terminal Control Unit Sydney Approach West and Sydney Departures South controllers
Issue owner: Airservices Australia
Transport function: Aviation: Airspace management
Background: Investigation Report AO-2011-142
Issue release date: 16 December 2013
Current issue status: Safety action pending

Safety issue description

There was no documented procedure for assuring the separation of aircraft departing from Sydney with parachute operations at Richmond, increasing the likelihood that Sydney Terminal Control Unit controllers would have differing expectations as to their control and coordination requirements in respect of these operations.

Proactive Action

Action number: AO-2011-142-NSA-061
Action organisation: Airservices Australia
Date: 16 December 2013
Action status: Monitor

Changes to the Sydney Terminal Control Unit local procedures were promulgated by Airservices Australia (Airservices) 6 months after the occurrence on 18 May 2012 and stated:

SAW shall coordinate, when required, with SDS to ensure aircraft inbound to SAW airspace avoid the Parachute Drop Zone activity.

In addition, on 30 October 2013, Airservices advised that:

Airservices clarifies that the intent of the changes to Sydney Terminal Control Unit local procedures (promulgated on 18 May 2012) was to ensure that coordination takes place amongst controllers in order to maintain separation assurance for all parachute activities, not just those at Richmond. The specific separation assurance technique used will vary depending on the particular circumstances and disposition of involved aircraft.

To further strengthen the effectiveness of the Sydney Terminal Control Unit local procedures, Airservices will undertake a review to amend the wording of the procedures to better align with the clarified intent. The review is anticipated to be completed by 31 December 2013.

Airservices considers that the amended local procedures supported by the inclusion of drop clearances in the label indication to be viewed by controllers on the Australian Advanced Air Traffic System (TAAATS) Human Machine Interface (HMI) will adequately address the identified safety issue.

ATSB comment:

The ATSB is satisfied that the action proposed and already taken by Airservices will adequately address the safety issue. The ATSB will monitor the progress of the proposed safety action.

Last update 13 January 2014