Airservices Australia leads regional integration drive

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Airservices Australia has been tasked by the national government with fostering safety, harmonisation and integration of air traffic management in the Asia-Pacific region, with an emphasis on Australia's closest neighbours.

The air traffic service provider is doing just that with a number of programmes under way, particularly in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

Its work with Indonesia is carried out through the Indonesia Transport Safety Assistance Package (ITSAP), an Australian government initiative that supports a range of projects intended to improve transport safety in the South-East Asian nation.

In ITSAP's first phase - worth A$23.9 million ($24 million), and completed last year - Airservices delivered safety management system awareness training to more than 100 air traffic control managers and supervisors.

It also trained instrument flight rule procedure designers; reviewed flight planning processes, aeronautical telecommunications infrastructure, flight inspection capability and air route structure; provided operational support before the opening of a new crossing runway at Sultan Hasanuddin airport in Makassar; deployed senior Airservices controllers to the Makassar air traffic services centre in Sulawesi; and advised on the establishment of a single air navigation service provider for Indonesia.

brisbane control tower, airservices australia
 © Airservices Australia
Airservices delivers safety management system awareness training to air traffic control managers and supervisors

The programme has been funded to the tune of A$14.5 million up to 2014. ITSAP II is to focus on safety management, regulatory compliance and air traffic flow management, and four projects are under way, says Airservices.

Additionally, Airservices has for a number of years helped Indonesia's Directorate General of Civil Aviation with a programme to implement automatic dependent surveillance - broadcast. A nationwide ADS-B was pioneered by Australia in 2009, providing unbroken surveillance for aircraft above flight level 300.

Airservices, along with Sita and Thales, helped Indonesia with an ADS-B trial between December 2006 and May 2007, with three ADS-B ground stations installed, at Natuna Island, Denpasar and Kupang. The trial proved successful and the DGCA subsequently installed 27 ADS-B ground stations across the Indonesian archipelago, 18 of which display surveillance information to air traffic controllers in Makassar. Late last year, Airservices and the DGCA agreed to start exchanging ADS-B data for aircraft travelling across the two countries' flight information region boundaries. "The world-first agreement allows air traffic controllers to precisely track aircraft up to 150nm [280km] inside the other country's airspace," says Airservices.

Data from four Australian ADS-B stations is transmitted to Makassar, while Airservices' Brisbane centre receives reciprocal data from four ADS-B ground stations in Indonesia. "The achievement is expected to be a model for further aeronautical data-sharing projects within the Asia-Pacific region," says Airservices, which sees ADS-B as a cost-effective surveillance tool. The primary objective of Airservices' work with Papua New Guinea Air Services is to assist the "sustainable capability building of the local service provider" and to enhance ATS provision and aviation safety in Papua New Guinea and the region, says Airservices.

Since last year Airservices has been working on four projects with Papua New Guinea under a A$1 million a year Australian Agency for International Development package, which also includes other transport agencies. These span safety management system training and implementation, air traffic management system replacement, communication, and surveillance-needs analysis.

Airservices had already completed a number of projects, including air traffic controller and radar technician training; design, implementation and commissioning of a new computer-based ATC training simulator in Port Moresby; navigation-needs analysis; and safety management system gap analysis.

Future facilitation and part-funding of regional air safety co-ordination groups such as the Australia-Indonesia ATS Coordination Group, Australia-PNG Safety Coordination Group and the South West Pacific Safety Forum is intended by the Australian service provider. "The primary function of these groups is to improve regional air safety, ATS provision and regional co-operation through sharing knowledge, experiences and resources," it says.

Airservices is also at the forefront of environmental ATM initiatives in the region. Along with Airways New Zealand and the US Federal Aviation Administration, it was a founding member of the Asia and South Pacific Initiative to Reduce Emissions (Aspire), which now also includes Japan's Civil Aviation Bureau and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore. Aerothai is set to formally commit in June. Subsequently, Thai Airways will conduct a green flight demonstration.

"Through the demonstration flight programme, Aspire has successfully improved awareness of the contribution that air navigation service providers make in reducing the environmental impact of aviation," says Airservices. "Aspire is now focused on making the environmental best practices available to a greater number of airspace users through the Aspire daily programme."

Airservices is also heading a second, similar initiative: the Indian Ocean Strategic Partnership to Reduce Emissions (Inspire). Air Traffic and Navigation Services of South Africa is already committed, while the service providers of the United Arab Emirates and India are expected to formally commit this month.

A formal commitment by all partners is due in early March, at the ATC Global show in Amsterdam. Etihad Airways, Emirates and South African Airways are all supportive of the initiative, says Airservices.

The Inspire plan will be considered at the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean Coordination Group meeting in early April in Oman. Should the initiative proceed, it would spread still further the influence of Airservices Australia's pioneering work.