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Monday, 3 March 2003
Page: 12061

Mr Martin Ferguson asked the Minister for Transport and Regional Services, upon notice, on 14 May 2002:

(1) During the operation of Airservices Australia's contingency plan for continuing air traffic control and aviation technical operations during the recent industrial action by Airservices Australia staff, did Airservices Australia declare Temporary Restricted Areas (TRAs) over the high seas outside Australian Territory and Australian Territorian Waters; if so, who determined that the TRAs should be declared.

(2) Did the TRAs comply with ICAO requirements and definitions, Australian aviation legislation and regulations and Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP) requirements and definitions.

(3) Was advice given about the legality of the declarations under Australian and international law; if so, who provided that advice and can a copy of that advice be provided.

(4) Did any air safety incidents occur as a result of the TRA declarations; if so, what are the details.

Mr Anderson (Minister for Transport and Regional Services) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) A Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) was issued, proposing the declaration of temporary restricted airspace over the high seas outside Australian territory and territorial waters within airspace normally designed as Class A or Class C airspace (ie between 24,500 feet and 46,000 feet). The decision to declare the airspace as restricted was taken up by Airservices Australia on advice from the National Airways Contingency Coordinating Committee (NACCC), a group representing the aviation industry, including Qantas, Virgin, Air New Zealand, Defence and Airservices Australia.

(2) The decision to declare temporary restricted airspace was made on safety grounds to ensure that aircraft entering that airspace would do so with authorisation and be known to other aircraft operating in the airspace.

Discussions have occurred with ICAO concerning the use of the “restricted airspace” declaration over international waters. Airservices Australia has noted ICAO's preference that “restricted airspace” will not be used and will in future use an alternative nomenclature as part of its contingency plans. For its part, ICAO has indicated satisfaction with Australia's explanation of its use of the “restricted airspace” classification in the ATS contingency arrangements implemented in March 2002.

(3) Internal legal advice was sought on certain aspects of the contingency arrangements as they related to Australian law. The ICAO issue raised above was not considered, therefore, the advice is not relevant.

(4) Four incidents were reported during the declaration of temporary restricted airspace. One incident is still under investigation, two involved aircraft entering the restricted area without clearance and the fourth involved an unauthorised flight plan amendment.