A temporary restricted area imposed over Melbourne by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority has raised the ire of many within the general aviation community.
The TRA was put in place on Wednesday at the request of Victoria Police who were combatting anti-lockdown and anti-vaccination protesters. The area covered a 3 nm radius centred on the Shrine of Remembrance from the surface to 2500 feet and was to be active for five days.
The move handed control of the Class G airspace within the zone to Victoria Police, which enabled them to stop news helicopters from live-streaming the protests. Police did give permission for helicopters to film, but demanded that footage be broadcast on a one-hour delay.
News outlets were granted relief from the TRA by the Federal Court yesterday, which has allowed live-streaming until CASA's decision to grant the request can be reviewed by the court next week. The media outlets argued that Victoria Police has no power to enforce the live-stream ban.
AOPA Australia CEO Ben Morgan said move was concerning and the justification for the TRA was not based in aviation safety.
"Our association is genuinely concerned that access to Melbourne's CBD airspace has been closed without valid justification, preventing commercial and media aviation from accessing the area," he said.
"Commercial and media aviation users accessing and operating within the Melbourne CBD are well versed and practiced at operating safely.
"Access to the Melbourne CBD airspace should not be manipulated for the purpose of avoiding public scrutiny or for political reasons."
Temporary Restricted Areas (also called "No-fly Zones") are not uncommon and have been applied in situations such as the devastating 2019-20 bushfires and the Melbourne Commonwealth Games and the Sydney Olympics. However, creating a temporary restricted area for the purpose of controlling media coverage has proven controversial and raised questions of censorship.
Victoria's AvSEF (formerly RAPAC) team was also not informed that the TRA had been imposed.
A CASA spokesperson has told Australian Flying that CASA is unable to comment whilst the matter is before the courts.