Airservice’s new system is unsuited to the challenge of Hobart’s rapidly growing passenger traffic
Passenger traffic at Hobart Airport is booming, with 2.8 million passengers arriving last financial year. Cambridge has seen unprecedented growth in light aircraft traffic increasing by over 30% last financial year. Cambridge now has more flights per year than Hobart.
Despite this, the government airspace regulator CASA still classifies Hobart as a regional (‘Class D’) airport, and Airservices hasn’t upgraded Hobart’s control tower since it was built in 1956.
Hobart doesn’t have radar, and many light aircraft don’t have the required GPS equipment – so binoculars remain an essential tool for keeping light aircraft safely apart from jets.
The solution is to upgrade Hobart from regional status to ‘Class C’ and implement radar, to put it on par with every other capital city and major airport in Australia..
An independent report recommended the upgrade to enhance safety, and a federal government policy requires CASA to conduct a risk assessment when passenger numbers exceed 1 million per year. CASA appears reluctant to do this.
Rather than spend the estimated $10-12 million on radar and other technology, Airservices is trying to get away with the low-cost automated satellite system it wants to roll out at other regional airports.
It seems a lot but the federal government recently allocated $80 million to Hobart Airport to spend on Customs and the Australian Federal Police under the Hobart City Deal.
CASA must comply with government policy and urgently look at upgrading Hobart Airport to Class C to ensure air traffic controllers can safely manage Hobart’s increasingly busy airspace. This would also make Hobart more attractive to new airline customers, and potential buyers.
Airservices must implement a full radar solution to reduce the risk of conflict between jets and light aircraft which are unable to use the proposed satellite system.
The Federal government should allocate $10 million of its $80 million Hobart Airport ‘City Deal’ upgrade package to improving air safety.
Airspace Review of Hobart and Cambridge Aerodromes November 2009 Conducted by Argus Consulting Group Pty Ltd “The opportunity exists to enhance the protection of PT operations by redesignating the existing Class D airspace at Hobart to Class C, which would result in a positive separation service being provided to all IFR aircraft, and thus improving safety particularly for passenger transport aircraft.…All mainland capital city aerodromes operate Class C airspace and terminal procedures. Cognisant of the fact that Hobart is the capital city of Tasmania it is appropriate that Class C airspace is implemented.”
Aeronautical study of Hobart February 2017 “CASA should continue to monitor aircraft and passenger movements and incidents at Hobart over the next 24 months to determine whether the trend for growth continues. An aeronautical risk review should then be conducted if necessary.”
Correspondence regarding reported incidents at Hobart Airport “CASA is not aware of an increase in safety incidents as a result of flight path changes at Hobart Airport”
Australian Airspace Policy Statement “When annual traffic levels at an aerodrome meet a threshold of any one of the criteria, CASA should complete an aeronautical risk review in consultation with the public, industry and government agencies.”
https://www.afr.com/business/hobart-airport-flies-high-on-record-passenger-numbers-as-tourism-booms-20180323-h0xvtz “Hobart Airport is growing at a faster rate than any other Australian capital city airport, with passenger numbers jumping 5.6 per cent in 2017 to new record highs as tourism booms”
https://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/pf/releases/2018/February/pf012_2018.aspx “Hobart Airport representatives are in discussions with airlines to negotiate international flights, and also recently announced plans for thedevelopment of a freight handling facility to enable local producers the opportunity to freight their produce direct from Hobart to their international export destination.”