Wednesday 23 May 2012 - Budget Estimates - Rural and Regional Committee
Senator LUDLAM: Yes. I will try to be quick. Thanks, Chair. I have been in touch with a constituent who has concerns about Gold Coast airport. I wonder by way of preamble if you could just draw to our attention the distinction between ILS navigation technology, which is deployed at some airports, and RNP, required navigation performance, systems, which are established at others. Point me to a publicly available list somewhere as to which airports or fields use which system and just draw the essential distinction between the two.
Mr Clark : Absolutely. There is a public list. I might ask my colleague Mr Harfield to give you more of a detailed answer.
Mr Harfield : Senator, for the definitions of an instrument landing system, or ILS, and a required navigation performance, being RNP, go to our website at airservicesaustralia.com.au. That will explain it. All our major aerodromes have ILS technology. RNP technology is only utilised at this moment in an official capacity at Brisbane airport, which was implemented on 8 March.
Senator LUDLAM: Of this year?
Mr Harfield : Of this year. It is under trial at 17 different locations around the country. Most of them are non-controlled aerodromes, or non-continuous air traffic service aerodromes, such as Alice Springs, for example. They are under trial and we have a program to roll it out across the country at most airports on a more permanent basis after considerable and extensive consultation with the community.
Senator LUDLAM: My understanding is that this was first trialled by Airservices Australia and Qantas over Brisbane in 2008 and it was known at that point as the Brisbane Green project. It ran for a year. The summary of the trial that I have seen looked pretty impressive. You saved 200,000 kilos of fuel, 650,000 kilos of CO2 emissions and had a reduction in flight delays. It looks as though it gives traffic controllers greater flexibility on how they bring aircraft in.
Mr Harfield : Yes, it does, Senator.
Senator LUDLAM: So why just Brisbane?
Mr Harfield : We started that as a trial and we continue to trial because we wanted to show the benefits that can be achieved by utilising this particular technology. What the technology does is allows a lot more flexibility, but with a lot more flexibility comes other issues, such as distribution of noise. Therefore, the reason we did not trial it and it took us so long to put it in is that we need to have a consultation process that allows us to talk to the community on better noise sharing and making sure that we are dealing with the concerns of the community with this type of technology.
Senator LUDLAM: I put to you the view of the constituents from Kingscliff. I know time is pretty short. They are concerned about traffic in and out of Coolangatta: 'The ILS system greatly reduces flexibility and it means that the pilots need a much longer run-up. They have a much reduced degree of flexibility in how they approach the field.' It looked as though Airservices Australia was proposing to install in June 2009 at 28 airports around the country, which would have had those commensurate savings in fuel and so on. I would have thought, for example, in Coolangatta, you could have aircraft approaching out at sea or over the mountains rather than over suburban areas, so in fact reduce your noise impacts.
Mr Harfield : There is the potential to do so. That is why at the moment we are in consultation with the community about the various options that we can have for Coolangatta.
Senator LUDLAM: That is a bit of a 'yes or no', is it not? Have you not just installed an ILS system at Coolangatta?
Mr Harfield : No. We have not. We are in the process of putting one in. It is being looked at at the moment for implementation early next year. But we have a consultation process in making sure that we are actually putting in not only the right technology to manage any potential safety issues in the management of air traffic in bad weather; we have to also look at the potential of aircraft fleet mix to-
Senator LUDLAM: Sorry, what was that bit of jargon?
Mr Harfield : Sorry. Depending on what technology is utilised by the aircraft, to actually use it for arrival at a particular airport, they have to have certain equipment or avionics on board. For example, with required navigation performance, if we used RNP, you have to not only have the aircraft equipped to be able to take advantage of that but you also have to have the crews trained.
Senator LUDLAM: But Brisbane is a much larger airfield than Coolangatta.
Mr Harfield : Yes, it is. But the fleet mix is very different to what flies into Coolangatta. Therefore, the type of aeroplane flying in there is one of the considerations that needs to be taken into account.
Senator LUDLAM: So this draft master plan for that airport at the moment is on the minister's desk. Is that correct?
Mr Mrdak : No, Senator. The minister has approved the master plan for Coolangatta-Gold Coast airport. It was approved and publicly announced last week.
CHAIR: Senator Ludlam, I ask you to put some questions on notice. I will give you one more.
Senator LUDLAM: Okay. My final batch, then, will be on notice. How far away are we from having that technology installed at Perth airport, where air traffic as a result of FIFO traffic has gone absolutely berserk and residents are justifiably pretty annoyed at the amount of noise in and out of Perth? Can you provide us with an update of whether or when RNP technology will be considered for Perth airport?
Mr Harfield : We will take that on notice, Senator.