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Ground Control Totally Gone?

Ground Control Totally Gone?


CASA’s ongoing requirements for passenger aircraft to be fitted with satellite-based navigation systems from May next year, rather than ground based radar and technology, is apparently ruffling a few feathers.

The older air navigation devices at 23 Victorian country airports will be replaced by modern GPS devices fitted to individual aircraft. However, not all councils approve of the closure.

Horsham Rural City Council failed in its fight to keep its airport’s equipment — radio transmitters called non-directional beacons, which send out signals picked up by aircraft — after some local flyers said they preferred ground-based alerts over a satellite.

Bairnsdale’s beacon is also being switched off on May 26 next year. Bairnsdale Air Charter chief pilot and director Mark Noble said the switch to a newer technology had been a challenge for some pilots, and it was most likely to be older pilots “who were a bit annoyed”.

However, Mr Noble said GPS was “much safer” and better to use in overcast conditions. “The beacon is not reliable in poor weather,” he said.

Airservices Australia observed that satellite navigation did not require any ground-based navigation aids and provided many safety and efficiency benefits, as well as reducing maintenance and operating costs for both aircraft operators and aviation agencies.

“Satellite-based technology that is available today, and will be required to be fitted to most passenger aircraft from 2016, ensures that pilots are better able to navigate Australia’s skies, providing safety and efficiency benefits,” Airservices corporate and industry affairs executive general manager Mairi Barton said.

Of about 400 navigation devices currently in service, about 165 navigation aids operated by Airservices and 25 which are privately owned, including two in Victoria, will not be decommissioned.

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