Airservices Australia is to push ahead with changes to airspace architecture through Tranche 3 of its Airspace Modernisation Program.
According to an Airservices paper released to the Regional Airspace and Procedures Advisory Committees (RAPAC) on 18 April, Tranche 3 will consist of five initiatives that will standardise airspace across regional airports and increase access to en route airspace.
"This program will improve service outcomes for the aviation industry through national standardisation and leveraging the benefits of increased surveillance coverage, while ensuring that the safety of air navigation remains our most important consideration," the paper states.
"The program is a key enabler for Airservices to deliver the benefits of the OneSKY Australia program ..."
The five initiatives are:
- Re-classify Class C airspace to Class E airspace at Albury, Alice Springs, Coffs Harbour, Hamilton Island, Hobart, Launceston, Mackay, Rockhampton and Tamworth
- Replace the out-of-tower hours Terminal Class E or Class D airspace with Class G airspace from the surface to 4500 feet AMSL at Hobart, Launceston, Mackay and Rockhampton
- Lower the out-of-tower hours Class E airspace steps to 4500 feet AMSL at Albury, Alice Springs and Tamworth
- Lower the Class D airspace upper limit from 5500 feet to 4500 feet AMSL at Broome and Karratha
- Lower the base of Class E airspace at Ayers Rock from 5500 to 4500 feet AMSL.
"These airspace changes are required as part of the broader Airspace Modernisation Program to provide the platform for an effective air traffic management service and are an enabler to deliver the benefits of the OneSKY Australia Program," Airservices believes.
"In removing the requirement to separate VFR aircraft from IFR aircraft in relatively low density regional areas, resources can be allocated to manage traffic at higher density and higher risk areas."
Currently Class C airspace is placed over Class D, which means that both VFR and IFR aircraft need an airways clearance to transit overhead the airport. With Class E sitting over the Class D, VFR aircraft will no longer need a clearance to overfly the field, but IFR aircraft will.
Airspace design over Class D towers has been a contentious issue for several years. Under the original National Airspace System (NAS) proposals, airspace over the Class D was to have been Class E, but the Class E concept was dropped in favour of Class C over Class D to protect inbound RPT flights that operated IFR.
Full details of Tranche 3 are on the Airservices Australia website. Feedback on the proposals must be sent to Airservices before 24 May 2019.