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Tuesday, 3 February 2009
Page: 169

Senator Bob Brown asked the Minister representing the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, upon notice, on 11 November 2008:

Further to the answer to question on notice No. 736 (Senate Official Hansard, 16 October 2008, p. 6303), concerning the failure of air traffic control in capital city areas:

(1)   What exactly happened on 31 August 2008 to delay four aircraft affected by staff unavailability for Canberra International Airport traffic control?

(2)   Where did the problem occur?

(3)   What back-up plan is in place to ensure such ‘unavailability’ does not recur at Australian airports?

(4)   Was there any failure of air traffic control at Canberra International Airport at the times indicated in part (1) of the answer provided?

Senator Conroy (Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy) —The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:

(1)   Airservices Australia has advised that air traffic control staff who called in sick at short notice on 31 August 2008 were unable to be replaced. Four aircraft were affected with 18 minutes of delay in total.

(2)   Airservices Australia’s Canberra Terminal Control Unit, which is located in the Melbourne Air Traffic Control Centre.

(3)   There are a range of options available to manage staff absences such as extending shift lengths, starting shifts early or calling in off-duty staff to work overtime.

(4)   No.