Reference number
Published date
Affected operation/industry
Concern subject type
Reporter's deidentified concern

The ATSB has received a safety concern regarding the installation of a telegraph pole on the [Location] aerodrome. The reporter believes that the pole presents a hazard to aircraft and its presence has not been adequately communicated to aerodrome users.

The primary concern is that the pole presents a significant hazard for aircraft, especially helicopters, operating in the vicinity of the pole located alongside the 07/25 parallel taxiway. The pole is unlit, devoid of conspicuous markings and being green in colour, blends in with the surrounding structures and grassy terrain. The pole is located in line with the row of hangars approximately 15 m from the sealed taxiway in an area that is frequently transited by air-taxiing helicopters.

The pole was erected without prior notice as a base for CCTV cameras. It stands higher than the roofline of the nearby hangars but its exact height is unknown. The reporter believes that the roofline is just clear of the Obstacle Limitation Surface (OLS) and therefore the pole would infringe this limit. The aerodrome operator did not provide any notice of the intended installation and as of 22 February 2022, there has been no communication via written notice, NOTAM or ERSA update to warn aerodrome users of the unmarked hazard.

The reporter queries whether the aerodrome operator has considered the risk such a hazard poses in its current state and how this could be mitigated.

Named party's response

1. The installation of CCTV at [Location] has been a work in progress since 2018 and necessary to increase safety and security.

2. The location of the pole was calculated to not present a hazard and provide the best possible vision of the manoeuvring area.

3. The pole is 2 metres under the transitional surface; 25 metres from the taxiway centreline; in line with existing hangars; and 25 meters from the end hangar.

4. Helicopter operations are not permitted at the western end of the aerodrome where the pole is located [Location] ERSA provided.

5. There are exceptions to the ERSA i.e. mosquito spray and emergencies. Note: there is an emergency event at present with helicopters involved in the rescue effort for the flood event landing and departing in the area where the pole and hangars are located. At no time, has any pilot or support crew member raised this pole as a hazard.

Regulator's response

[Location] Aerodrome is an Aircraft Landing Area (ALA), so therefore CASA does not oversight the aerodrome.

The only potential hazard identified would be for air taxing of helicopters, but that would depend upon the site-specific operations. The colour of the pole does not contrast with the background.

An assessment based upon the base of the pole being at the same elevation as the runway allows for a 16 m high object at the location of the pole. Based upon the height of the cabinet mounted on the pole, the pole is probably about 8 m high. If the runway was able to be upgraded to a non-precision instrument approach, a pole at that location could be 11.5 m high. Noting that such an upgrade could not occur unless the aerodrome is certified.

The location of the pole is also offset from the adjacent taxiway far enough for a code B taxiway. Code B taxiways require an overall taxiway strip to be 20 m from the centreline to the outer edge of the taxiway. The taxiway pavement width however, appears to be narrower than required for a code A taxiway, which requires 15.5 m from the taxiway centreline to the edge of the overall taxiway strip.

It is also likely that installation of the pole could be achieved without the crane penetrating the obstacle limitation surfaces. The installation work for the pole could therefore be completed without an MOWP, but once again this only applies to certified aerodromes.

The ATSB queried with CASA, CAR 1988 Reg 95 for 'Removal or marking of objects which constitute obstructions or potential hazards to air navigation'.

The Office of Airspace Regulations is not involved in these types of matters. The 'hazard' as it was described in the report is a matter for the aerodromes branch, and as I understand it, they do not actively regulate ALAs for the purposes of this request.

CASA sees this issue as a land and planning matter that the local council would manage. In other words, developments near the aerodrome would require approvals through the Land and Planning process under the council’s approval process. This might include a referral onto other agencies, and if the development was in the vicinity of an aerodrome, that procedure might require comment from aviation authorities or stakeholders. 

In any case, the aerodrome operator can always apply to Airservices Australia to include information about the hazard in ERSA as well.

ATSB comment

The ATSB forwarded the advice from CASA to the aerodrome operator for their consideration.