Air traffic delays on the eastern seaboard of Australia at the country's three major airports are costing in excess of A$70 million ($58 million) and generating an additional 180 million kg (400 million lb) of carbon dioxide a year, according to research conducted by Australian air traffic service provider Airservices Australia.

To identify and implement possible solutions to the growing delays along the eastern seaboard of the country, Airservices is proposing establishing a Capacity Demand Forum (CDF) comprising airlines, airports and the Bureau of Meteorology.

Although Australian airspace is still relatively uncongested, the country has a number of high-density routes, with Sydney-Melbourne, for example, featuring in the top five busiest city pairings in the world, says Greg Russell, Airservices chief executive officer. Australian domestic and international traffic is expected to grow by 4% a year on average, doubling by 2025.

In addition, Airservices is establishing a National Operations Centre in Canberra to improve ATM co-ordination. The centre will overview the nation's traffic flow to monitor and report issues and improvement opportunities, says Ken McLean, general manager air traffic control.

It will run all central traffic management systems and the long-range optimisation flow programme operating in Sydney.

Airservices is already implementing a number of ATM initiatives designed to improve efficiency. These include the ALOFT long-range flow optimisation technique that has reduced fuel burn for early morning arrivals into Sydney and a required navigational performance trial at Brisbane.

User preferred routes have been operational across the Pacific for several years, while flex tracks are used between Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and several Asian destinations which allow aircraft to "ride the wind" rather than fly a fixed route. Airservices is at an advanced stage in bringing flex track capability to the domestic environment across continental Australia, says McLean.

Source: Flight International