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Wednesday, 24 May 1989
Page: 2574


Senator TEAGUE —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Communications. Is the Government satisfied with the relatively new radar system presently in use at Adelaide Airport, that is, the air traffic control autonomous radar display system known as ATCARDS? Is it not the same system as the one being used at Melbourne's Tullamarine Airport, a system which is liable to be abolished after a review is completed next month? Is the ATCARDS system also being used at a third airport-Perth? Has the Minister's attention been drawn to the reported comments of an Adelaide air traffic controller in the Advertiser on 16 May that the present system is not the best for Adelaide? Can the Government assure users of Adelaide Airport that the inadequacies of the radar in use do not compromise the safety of passengers and airline staff?


Senator GARETH EVANS —I am advised that, since being commissioned, the new air traffic control autonomous radar display system in Melbourne and Adelaide has not performed as well as anticipated. As a result of early problems with the system, a review team has established the need for a range of data presentation improvements and these are now being implemented by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) task force. Other ergonomic issues that needed to be addressed have been implemented. In the short term, there have been changes to the computer program, performance tuning of the radar head sensors and the way in which data is presented to the air traffic controllers. The CAA is currently installing further software upgrades which should significantly improve ease of operation.

The CAA is examining in detail whether the ATCARDS system should be persisted with or whether an alternative system should be purchased. In any event, ATCARDS will have to be in service for at least another two years. Accordingly, a number of upgrade operations to improve the overall quality and operator acceptability are being examined. Staff are being kept fully informed of these issues; hence the recent press reports on which Senator Teague no doubt based his question.


Senator TEAGUE —I ask a supplementary question, Mr President. Has the Government directly approved the expenditure of some $2 1/2m for this relatively new system? Is the Government satisfied that the faults in its early operation do not result from inadequate checking of the system by the Government before it was introduced?


Senator GARETH EVANS —I will take that question on notice.