Say you're flying over
Australia's Northern Territory, minding your own business when you
decide to dial up the controller ahead and get a clearance. Who're
you going to call?
Ahhh. Therein lies the rub. Australia's Civil Air, the union
representing controllers down under, says maps issued last week
don't list proper radio frequencies. "Airspace will be reduced to a
dodgem-car track with aircraft using see and avoid procedures and
total confusion over radio frequency boundaries," Civil Air
president Ted Lang said.
The Sunday Times in Perth reports those new maps are part of a
relaxation of Australian airspace, an effort rolled out with
distribution of the new maps. But Civil Air says that's really,
really bad. Under the new rules, Civil Air says the lack of defined
frequency boundaries could cause conflicts between commercial
flights operating in Alice Springs and Darwin and GA and charter
traffic in those areas.
"Pilots will have no idea which frequencies apply to the
boundaries of their airspace," Lang said. "An aircraft on one
frequency will never hear collision warnings of another aircraft on
a different frequency. It is total guesswork and an undeniable
threat to safety - it has become an embarrassing and dangerous
The National Airspace
System implementation group - which is responsible for the reforms
- rejected claims about compromised safety Saturday. Group
executive director Mike Smith said, "It is a misrepresentation. The
maps don't have that information, but it is a bit like telling
people with window wipers in their cars how and when to use them.
These reforms are about enhancing safety."
As far as that bit about flying blind, Smith said the allegation
is "simply untrue and incorrect." So why the flap? Smith says the
new aviation policies in Australia could mean technology will lower
the number of controllers required to run the airspace. That, he
suggested, is what the argument is really all about.