• The Gliding Federation of Australia is concerned about the impact of 1500-foot Class E on their sport. (GFA)
    The Gliding Federation of Australia is concerned about the impact of 1500-foot Class E on their sport. (GFA)

The Gliding Federation of Australia (GFA) yesterday sent a letter to members saying they will not be supporting Airservices Australia's low-level Class E proposal.

Airservices Australia has put in a proposal to lower the 8500-foot Class E airspace base between Cairns and Melbourne to 1500 feet AGL, a move that would eradicate most of the Class G airspace on the eastern seaboard.

The proposal has been given a very short consultation period and has not been accompanied by a safety case, which–along with the prospect of losing Class G–has raised the ire of many stakeholder groups.

"GFA does not support this proposal due to the lack of information and our initial analysis of the impacts to gliding and aviation safety," the letter signed by Executive Manager Operations Christopher Thorpe states.

Among the concerns outlined in the GFA letter are:

  • Class E airspace has a mandated requirement for transponders to be fitted to any aircraft operating in the airspace unless the aircraft does not have an engine driven electrical system capable of powering a transponder. Whereas pure gliders will be exempt, tug planes will not
  • gliders are required to monitor the class E frequency via a number of means, including one glider monitoring for several gliders in the same area. This proposal would compound this issue for many clubs on the east coast and would include nearly all flights because launches are typically above 1500ft AGL
  • GFA is unaware of any safety case for the proporal and therefore have no way of understanding what safety benefits are derived from it and can't evaluate the merits
  • the duration of consultation phase is too short to provide assurance that Airservices has considered fair access to Class E for all users
  • the cost to gliding both in equipment and the development of procedures will be considerable
  • there has been no information communicated at this time that there is any awareness of the cost this proposal imposes on industry, nor recognition of the requirement for a Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS).

"There are some key elements we need to be aware of and then we are inviting you to provide feedback to Airservices via their website," Thorpe states. "It is important that individuals provide feedback as your club’s circumstances are different. GFA will also be submitting a high-level feedback directly to Airservices."

Airservices' proposal is part of their Airspace Modernisation Program, which is intended to take advantage of the capabilities of ADS-B.

According to Airservices Australia, the proposal to lower the base of Class E airspace to 1500 feet AGL will "maximise existing surveillance capabilities and ... increase the volume of controlled airspace."

Feedback to the proposal closes on 15 February. Submissions can be made on CASA AvSEF website.

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