Royal Australian Air Force air traffic controllers from Townsville have started a program of engagement with young and inexperienced pilots operating in the region.
Personnel from 452 Squadron (ATC), which provides air traffic services to the airport, have introduced certificate ceremonies for civilian student pilots, with the first one conducted in September for students who had achieved their first solo flight.
Sqn Ldr Adam Wilson, Operations Commander of 452 Sqn, said they hoped engaging with young pilots in particular would foster better relationships with ATC.
“Generally speaking, student and inexperienced pilots can often be apprehensive about air traffic control and may be a little reluctant to tell controllers when they are unsure about the instructions given or are having difficulties flying the aircraft. This can lead to aviation safety occurrences,” Squadron Leader Wilson said.
“Developing a positive relationship between pilots, particularly students and air traffic control, has proven effective in encouraging pilots to notify if they are unsure or in need of assistance.
“It improves general aviation safety."
As part of Surveillance and Response Group’s No. 44 Wing, 452 Squadron provides air traffic control services to military and civilian aircraft, supporting air movements at Townsville International Airport and within the designated regional airspace.
Townsville Airport houses not only RAAF Garbutt, but also has a busy civil RPT service and general aviation operators including charter companies, flight training organisations and skydive operators. The airport caters for 64,000 movements per year, of which only 8000 are military.
The RAAF air traffic controllers said the event would be the first of many to continue their partnership with local flying schools.