Mode Aviation
Reference No. AR201800066
Date reported 19 June 2018
Concern title Fence across decommissioned runway not visible to aircraft
Concern summary

The concern related to a wire fence erected across a decommissioned runway at the aerodrome.

Industry / Operation affected Aviation: Airports
Concern subject type Aviation: Airport

Reporter's concern

Multiple reporters have raised a safety concern regarding a recently erected wire fence across the decommissioned cross runway at [Location] aerodrome.

The reporters acknowledge that the strip has been decommissioned for many years and is not included in the En-Route Supplement Australia (ERSA); however, it could be reasonably assumed by flight crew that a grass strip at a serviceable aerodrome would be a suitable landing option if required in an emergency situation.

The reporters have advised that whilst they would prefer the availability of an East/West runway due to the strong and sudden changes in wind direction common in the area, knowing there is a decommissioned grass strip is preferable than no runway at all, if it were unexpectedly required. The reporters advise that the fence is not marked and hence, not visible from circuit height. Additionally, there are no markings on the strip alerting crew to the hazard. There is no mention of the fence in the ERSA nor have any NOTAM’s been issued. Further, the installation of the fence has not been communicated to local flying clubs/schools.

The reporters state that the fence poses an obvious and serious safety risk to aircraft that would be unaware of the hazard.

Operator's response (Operator 1)

The grass runway was permanently decommissioned in December 2012 in consultation with CASA and in consideration of a detailed technical assessment, which concluded that there is no specific technical requirement or safety imperative to provide a cross runway alignment at [Location] Airport.

The area is now used as parking for general aviation aircraft and helicopter and is not certified as an aircraft landing area. The decision to decommission the grass runway and [aerodrome operator] broader master plan for the Airport is in accordance with the provisions of the [Location] Aerodrome Deed (Australian Government).

[Aerodrome operator] is reviewing options recommended by the ATSB to ensure that the decommissioned grass runway is easily identifiable from the air as being unsuitable for emergency landings due to obstacles (for example, parked aircraft), and will discuss options with stakeholders at our routine stakeholder meetings. [Aerodrome operator] will continue to consider the appropriate location of future airport operational / security fencing requirements as part of its broader planning for the anticipated growth of [Location] Airport.

ATSB comment

As the aerodrome is uncertified, there are no requirements for the aerodrome to meet standards outlined in the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998 (CASR). As such, the REPCON was not forwarded to CASA.

Last update 05 August 2019