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Concern summary

Safety concern regarding the incorrect Precision Approach Path Indicator (PAPI) setting at [location] aerodrome

Reporter's deidentified concern

The ATSB received a report that the RNAV instrument approach to runway [number] at [location] aerodrome has a slope of 3.2 degrees, however, the PAPI is set at 4 degrees. This results in four red lights displaying throughout the entire approach when on the 3.2 degree approach profile.

The reporter states that the wind favours runway [number] at this time of year and is concerned that the false PAPI indication could result in an incident if not rectified.

Safety outcome

Airservices confirmed that the 3.2 degree slope is appropriate.

CASA advised that given the high threshold crossing height for this runway approach, it appears that the light projectors were originally positioned at a distance along the runway to suit a 3 degree slope and were subsequently elevated to 4 degrees after installation.

The aerodrome operator was contacted and advised that the PAPI needs to be realigned to the standard 3-degree slope with the lowest on-slope observed colour transition at 2d 48’. This is significant change that will need to be completed by theodolite survey in accordance with the commissioning guidance included in CAAP 89T-1.

In the interim, a NOTAM has been raised to communicate that the PAPI is not aligned with the approach procedures.

Update from regulator

The provision of a PAPI is not a mandated requirement for operations at [location] Aerodrome. However, the operator of the aerodrome has been made aware that provision of a PAPI is important for the aircraft operators and there is increasing urgency for reinstating a correctly aligned and functioning PAPI at the aerodrome.

A request to carry out realignment was sent to Council on 16 March 2020. A contractor was available to travel to complete the work around 22 June 2020, however the aerodrome manager left Council and there was no-one available to progress the work.  A new aerodrome manager has now been appointed and CASA has directed Council to conduct ground check and flight checks of the PAPI for RWY [numbers] in accordance with the provisions of MOS 139.9.18(7).

During a period of staff turnover and COVID 19 travel restrictions to the area, the operator has experienced issues finding a suitably competent person to complete the job. However as of February 2021, the operator made contact with a consultant surveyor and was negotiating a way forward.