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Monday, 15 February 1999
Page: 1939

Senator O'Brien asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services, upon notice, on 24 November 1998:

(1) Did the Bureau of Air Safety Investigation (BASI) undertake an investigation of the class G airspace trial procedures prior to the commencement of those trials; if so: (a) when did that review commence; (b) when was it completed; (c) what were the findings of the review; and (d) was a copy of the review report provided to the Minister.

(2) How many separation breakdowns or `incident reports' have been received by BASI since the trial commenced.

(3) (a) What was the nature of each incident; (b) when was each incident reported; and (c) what action was taken as a result of each report.

(4) Can copies be provided of all the incident reports to date.

Senator Ian Macdonald (Regional Services, Territories and Local Government) —The Minister for Transport and Regional Services has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) No

(2) The term `separation breakdown' refers to the breakdown of air traffic control separation standards. These standards apply only to operations within controlled airspace. For operations outside controlled airspace, similar events are described as `traffic conflictions'.

During the period of the Class `G' airspace demonstration, BASI received 160 reports relating to the airspace demonstration.

Sixteen of these reports were assessed as requiring further investigation and the remainder assessed as Category 5 occurrences.

Category 5 occurrences are those that are primarily of statistical interest and are recorded on the BASI database for future trend analysis. The information as reported to the Bureau is available to the public on request.

(3) (a) The sixteen incidents investigated involved actual or potential traffic conflictions or issues relating to the design and management of the demonstration.

One of these incidents was classified at the Category 3 level, which requires a preliminary report as well as a final report. The preliminary report for this occurrence was released on 4 December 1998 and a copy is attached.

Category 3 occurrences are those where the initial indications suggest potentially serious safety deficiencies. Consequently, an in-depth investigation is required to satisfy the concern for public safety. The report will include a Safety Action Statement detailing the relevant safety actions. Reports are available to the public on request.

(b) The incidents under investigation were reported during the period 22 October 1998 to 3 December 1998.

(c) In addition to the investigation of the sixteen incidents referred to above, on 5 November 1998, BASI commenced a systemic investigation of the Class G Airspace Demonstration. On 9 December BASI issued three Interim Recommendations, which resulted in the airspace demonstration ceasing on 13 December. Following the release of the Interim Recommendations the Minister announced that the Secretary of the Department of Transport and Regional Services was to conduct a review to ensure the safety integrity of the aviation system. The review will clarify the roles and responsibilities of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Airservices Australia and the Department in relation to the regulation, design and management of airspace.

(4) The preliminary report on the category 3 incident together with Brief Print (Public) reports of the other fifteen incidents investigated during the `G' airspace demonstration have been provided to the Table Office.