• Mangalore Airport to the North-east of Melbourne. (Google Earth image)
    Mangalore Airport to the North-east of Melbourne. (Google Earth image)

CASA's Office of Airspace Regulation (OAR) today published a published a report on a study of the airspace surrounding Mangalore Airport in Victoria.

Mangalore is one of the largest airports in the state and sits in a high traffic area that also includes several other CTAFs and sport and recreational aviation areas. In February 2020, it was the site of a fatal mid-air collision between two twin-engined aircraft that were using the airspace for training.

OAR's study found that the current airspace classification was appropriate for the area around Mangalore and made only two minor recommendations following the study.

"The study found that the airspace classification remains appropriate however recommendations have been made to enhance the safety of operations within the area, through education, amending aeronautical information and opportunities to enhance situational awareness for all pilots," the report concludes.

The two recommendations are that CASA conduct a safety seminar in the area and that ERSA requirements to add 1000 feet to published data for practice approaches needs to be clarified or removed.

The OAR report also stated that documents such as the VNC and ERSA needed to be amended and updated to include more information about operations in the area.

OAR did not recommend a 20-nm Mandatory Broadcast Zone (MBZ) around Mangalore because "this will not address identified issues within the vicinity of a non-controlled aerodrome and will likely increase frequency congestion."

As well as flight training, helicopter operations and private flying out of Mangalore, the CTAF also covers parachuting at Nagambie and Euroa, gliding and powered operations at Wahring and hang gliding at several locations.

The airport is home to one of very few VOR stations left in the state, which attracts training flights that have little or no options for conducting VOR work anywhere else.

Mangalore is also at a pinch-point for pilots flying into and out of the Melbourne basin avoiding the Puckapunyal restricted area to the west and the high ground to the east.

Feedback to the CASA Consultation Hub in September last year showed that 59% of respondents considered the existing Mangalore airspace is safe or mostly safe, with 21% having no opinion either way and 19% believing the airspace as unsafe or mostly unsafe.

Respondents nomination frequency congestion as having a negative impact on situational awareness, caused by the number of aircraft operating in the area, use of non-standard phraseology and users from non-English speaking backgrounds requiring additional or repeat transmissions.

Mangalore was to have a Surveillance Flight Information Service (SFIS) operating from September last year, but was never established. The CASA OAR report doesn't call for the mandatory broadcast area (MBA) proposed by Airservices Australia, which is needed for SFIS.

The full airspace study report is on the CASA Consultation Hub website, and is open for feedback until 11 August.

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