An Office of Airspace Regulation (OAR) review has recommended that Hobart Airport and the surrounding airspace be upgraded to Class C.
The OAR review, published this month, found that movements at Hobart had increased by 2.8% in the period February 2016 to February 2019 and at Cambridge by 12.4% for the same period. The review also found that passenger numbers at Hobart were comparable to other Class C towers around Australia although aircraft movements and safety incidents were lower.
The OAR found that the current Class D airspace was the correct fit for Hobart, but that safety would be further enhanced by upgrading to Class C and recommended that Airservices Australia submit an Airspace Change Proposal (ACP) within 12 months.
"Based on the analysis of data including the total number and types of ... occurrences, total aircraft and passenger movements, feedback from stakeholders and services provided within the area, the existing airspace classification is fit for purpose," the review report states.
"However, continued growth in air transport movements through aircraft with differing performance abilities and increased seating capacity presents a level of risk that will require additional consideration in the future.
"The opportunity for Airservices to examine a solution by implementing a higher level of service than currently operates at Hobart, thereby enhancing services, should be considered."
Stakeholder feedback warned the OAR that with the upgrade to Class C, it would be necessary to also upgrade surveillance capability. Hobart is currently a procedural tower supplemented by Tower Situational Awareness Display (TSAD).
"The current airspace can be tolerated; however, if surveillance to lower levels is available, this is likely to assist their operations and [is] therefore supported,"Par Avion Aviation, which runs Cambridge Airport, said. "However procedural separation in Class C airspace would cause delays and limit or restrict their operations due to the priority of flights."
The Australian Airline Pilots Association (AusALPA) also pointed out the need to increase surveillance.
"AusALPA supports the change of airspace classification for Hobart from Class D to Class C; however, this must also occur with surveillance capabilities too. The Ministerial Directive 2004 is yet to be achieved and the use of the TASWAM [Tasmanian Wide Area Multilateration] technology should be considered to meet the intent of the Directive.
"Currently this technology is not available for use below 7000 feet AMSL."
Airservices Australia has included Hobart in the Tranche 3 airspace upgrade program, which would have placed Class E airspace over the top of the current Class D tower. If accepted, the OAR recommendation would leave the Class C airspace over the airports in place.