QANTAS IS TO SPEND about A$10 million ($7.5 million) fitting traffic-alert and collision-avoidance systems (TCAS) to its entire domestic turbofan fleet, following a recommendation from its safety department after an increase in near-misses in Australia.

The systems will be fitted to some 40 Boeing 737s and Airbus A300-B4s. The TCAS, which is already fitted to Qantas' international fleet, is credited with resolving three potential mid-air collisions in Australia between opposite-direction aircraft in cruise on the same route at the same level. In each case, one TCAS-equipped international aircraft was involved.

In the two more recent incidents, a British Airways Boeing 747 was forced to climb suddenly to avoid a Qantas domestic 737 near Alice Springs; and, on 27 August, an All Nippon 747 had to dive beneath an Air Niugini Airbus A310 flying in the opposite direction, after a TCAS warning near the boundary of Australian/Papua New Guinean airspace.

Following all three incidents, air-traffic controllers were suspended from duty pending an inquiry. Airlines say that the TCAS has also helped them detect weaknesses in a new air-route system across the Great Australian Bight, designed to increase the flow of air traffic, but converging over Adelaide.

Source: Flight International