Australia's plans to combine its civil and military air traffic control (ATC) services have been scaled back as the Royal Australian Air Force opts in favour of retaining its ATC capability to allow it to continue to provide services in conflict areas such as Iraq.

A joint working group comprising personnel from air traffic services provider Airservices Australia and the Department of Defence had been investigating the feasibility of integrating the country's civil and military air traffic management (ATM).

The first phase of the Integrated Operating Concept (IOC) was focusing on Darwin and Townsville, where ATC is provided by RAAF controllers. Under the proposal Airservices Australia would have taken over the ATC services at these centres, with the civil service provider originally hoping that the study could result in integration throughout the country within five years.

Sources at Airservices say that the IOC agreement still stands and its eventual aim remains a unified system, but concedes that "a unified ATM system is now some way off".

RAAF controllers have been deployed in Baghdad for two months.

Source: Flight International