Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Professor Brian O'Keeffe receives international aviation award.

Download PDFDownload PDF

MEDIA RELEASE The Hon John Anderson MP Deputy Prime Minister Minister for Transport and Regional Services Leader of The Nationals

Professor Brian O’Keeffe Receives International Aviation Award

A174/2004 7th December 2004

The Deputy Prime Minister, John Anderson, has presented Professor Brian O’Keeffe AO with the 37th Edward Warner Award for his pioneering work on advanced aviation communication, navigation and air traffic management systems.

Professor O’Keeffe is currently the Adjunct Professor in Communications Engineering at the University of Canberra. Since the 1960s, he has led the international development of new aviation communication and navigation systems.

The Edward Warner Award is the highest civil aviation honour in the world. It is awarded each year by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the United Nations agency responsible for civil aviation. Professor O’Keeffe is only the third Australian to receive the award.

“Professor O’Keeffe graduated from the University of Queensland with an engineering degree in 1956, and joined the then Department of Civil Aviation, where he designed and supervised radio installations.

“From 1959 to 1975, Professor O’Keeffe worked in the department’s central office and was responsible for a series of notable achievements in the development of aviation technology. He designed a new Instrument Landing System localiser antenna, which became the Australian standard for many years. He was one of the co-developers of a high accuracy tracking system for aircraft engaged in flight calibration, which became a vital part of the development of later technologies.

“In the late 1960s, he became involved in the early studies of the application of satellite systems for civil aviation. He was the aviation representative on the task force that developed Australia’s national communications satellite system, which has provided a high quality service for Australian civil aviation since the mid 1980s.

“As a senior aviation official, he became the Australian member and vice chairman of the ICAO Special Committee on Future Air Navigation Systems (FANS), and was later elected as chairman of the FANS Phase II committee. He led the international

development of FANS, which uses satellite technology to manage air traffic. It is less expensive and less dependent on ground infrastructure than traditional air traffic management systems.

“It is already in use for aircraft crossing the Pacific Ocean from Australia to the United States, and is one of the technologies that has made direct trans-Pacific flights possible.

“It allows planes to fly closer together, because air traffic controllers can determine exactly where they are. It enables airlines to select their own, best tracks across the ocean, to save fuel and time.

“Here in Australia, Professor O’Keeffe’s work is the foundation of the new ADS-B system that is being rolled out by Airservices Australia. The system will cover virtually the entire continent at a fraction of the cost of installing and maintaining conventional radar systems.

“There is no doubt that Professor O’Keeffe’s work has saved airlines countless dollars in fuel costs and made air travel safer. Australia depends on our aviation links to the rest of the world; Professor O’Keeffe is one of our greatest aviation achievers,” Mr Anderson said.

Professor O’Keeffe was appointed an Officer in the Order of Australia in 1992, and received an honorary doctorate from Monash University in 1998. He has received many international awards, including the US Federal Aviation Administration’s Award for Distinguished Service.

The previous Australian recipients of the Edward Warner Award were Sir Donald Anderson CBE (Director-General of Civil Aviation and Chairman of Qantas) and Dr Keith Bradfield OBE (civil aviation administrator, civil engineer and Australia’s first representative to ICAO).

High resolution digital images of the presentation ceremony are available for media use. Please email

Media contact: Bill McKinley 02 6277 7680

Bill McKinley Communications Adviser Office of the Deputy Prime Minister Leader of The Nationals Minister for Transport and Regional Services

Tel: +61 2 6277 7680 Fax: +61 2 6273 4126