Flight path automation abandoned due to safety incidents

As mentioned in an earlier post, implementation of SIDs and STARs in Hobart generated a large spike in safety incidents where arrival and depature paths cross at about 7000ft over the town of Richmond. Aircraft flight management systems were unable to meet the altitudes specified in the design, creating a serious hazard with many breaches and at least three 'loss of separation' incidents.

While Airservices representatives have tried to dismiss these as normal 'teething problems', documents obtained recently under the Freedom of Information Act show that air traffic controllers and managers expressed serious concerns about the issue, eventually implemementing a manual workaround (known as a 'Temporary Local Instruction'). This requires Hobart controllers to manually guide pilots along the flight paths to avoid collisions, instead of using the intended automated system - effectively removing all the supposed benefits of 'predictability' and 'workload reduction'.

So as well as noise impact on communities never previously overflown, aircraft now have increased track miles, no opportunity for visual approaches, and increased pilot workload. And even more worryingly, Airservices appears to have been willing to tolerate an increased risk to passengers. So much for safety and efficiency!