• A section of the 8 November 2018 Melbourne VTC. (Airservices Australia)
    A section of the 8 November 2018 Melbourne VTC. (Airservices Australia)

CASA's Office of Airspace Regulation (OAR) has repealed changes made to the Port Phillip Bay VFR coastal route that came in on 8 November.

An AIP SUP and NOTAM were issued effective from Wednesday 28 November that reinstate the original altitude/track recommendations that existed before 8 November, except for an allowance for the new 2000-foot CTA step running from Tooronga to Laverton North.

Charts will not be updated until the next cycle in May 2019, although AvPlan has altered their charts making reference to the AIP SUP.

The changes were triggered when a new 2000-foot CTA step was introduced to protect the GLS approach to runway 34 at Melbourne. Members of the Victorian Regional Airspace and Procedures Advisory Committee (RAPAC) agreed with the new step and recognised that the VFR route altitudes would need to be dropped by 500 feet to accommodate the new step.

However, when the new charts were published, the OAR had changed the notation on the Melbourne VTC so that the recommended altitudes for eastbound and westbound traffic from Station Pier to Laverton were reversed, as were the altitudes for northbound and southbound traffic coastal past Moorabbin Airport.

The aviation community were given no other notification, which created a situation where pilots using the old recommendations would be put on a collision course with pilots using the new recommendation.

According to sources within the OAR, the intent of switching the altitudes was to maintain conformance with CAR 258, which sets the gliding distance to land.

The changes caused the Victorian aviation community to go into over-drive spreading the word around in a flurry of communication to try to get pilots all using the new recommendations.

In the background, members of the Vic RAPAC pointed out that there was neither agreement to nor notification of the altitude changes, and that the new recommendations contravened CAR 173, which establishes cruising levels appropriate to track.

On Tuesday the word got out that OAR had conceded to RAPAC's arguments and were about to reverse the altitudes again, causing aviation community grapevine to get active once again. However, with the new charts already distributed, OAR elected to wait until the next chart update to amend the recommendations, relying instead on the AIP SUP and the NOTAM.

The new 2000-foot CTA step remains in place.

It is believed that Vic RAPAC has since congratulated CASA on listening to the advice of RAPAC and taking swift action to correct the original mistake.

Recommended Cruising Levels for Port Phillip Bay Coastal VFR Route - effective 28 November 2018

  • Westbound from Station Pier (SNP) to Laverton BOM Tower (BOM): 2000 feet
  • Eastbound from BOM to SNP: 1500 feet
  • Southbound from Point Ormond (PTOM) to Carrum (CARR): 1500 feet
  • Northbound from CARR to PTOM: 2500 feet
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