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Air Force provides safe traffic control

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Media Release

18 October 2013 Air Force provides safe traffic control

The Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Geoff Brown AO today affirmed Air Force’s commitment to ‘mission first, safety always’.

Acknowledging a recent Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) report Air Marshal Brown said the unique nature of military flying means the ATSB report has unfairly compared civilian and military airspace.

“Air Force acknowledges this report, because of our commitment to continuous improvement in aviation safety as part of our robust Safety Management System,” Air Marshal Brown said.

“I am disappointed that the report has chosen to concentrate on the loss of separation incidents in military airspace, and does not address the 80 per cent of loss of separation incidents that occur in civil air traffic control space, which is outside of Air Force’s control,” Air Marshal Brown said.

Air Traffic Control separation uses layers of defences so that if a separation standard is infringed, although it is an undesired situation, the chance of a collision remains very remote.

“The unique nature of military flying means the ATSB report has unfairly compared civilian and military airspace. The factors which may make military airspace more dynamic and variable, do not necessarily make the airspace less safe,” Air Marshal Brown said.

“The nature of military flying requires multiple aircraft flying in formation, making the airspace particularly crowded for brief periods. Other training such as formation flights and training for hostile situations are not encountered by civilian aircraft,” Air Marshal Brown explained.

The ATSB report found that military airspace only accounted for 20 per cent of ‘loss of separation’ incidents, and no evidence of fundamental deficiencies in the safety management of aircraft separation in Australia.

As part of Air Force’s ongoing commitment to safety, Air Force will undertake a review of Air Traffic Management Plans and airspace design for RAAF Bases Darwin, Townsville and Williamtown. These three bases integrate a large number of aircraft types - both military and civilian - and the review will ensure military airspace is more error resistant.

Air Force air traffic services are regulated by a comprehensive regime of independent audits and evaluations. Where practical, the regulation process

accords with that specified by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority which regularly observes the Air Force audits.

Air Force provides air traffic services for all aircraft in the airspace surrounding RAAF air bases. Information about Air Force’s air traffic safety systems is available at:

Media Contact Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999