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Airspace Changes by Airservices- E

Class E was an early introduction between Melbourne and Mildura, with a lower limit of 7500FT. A clear and concise usage.

AirServices [ASA] new changes are a mish-mash of levels, requiring significant pilot inputs.

The proposal, by ASA uses AGL [Above Ground Level], not the universally accepted AMSL [Above Mean Sea Level].

There is no safety case made by Airservices in proposed changes to Class E airspace.

Requirements of Class E Airspace

As with other classes of controlled airspace, Class E airspace has specific requirements which are outlined by the FAA. Areas designated as Class E airspace have:

  • Basic VFR minimum visibility requirements of 3 miles when flying below 10,000 feet
  • Basic VFR cloud clearance minimums of 500 feet below, 1,000 feet above, or 2,000 feet horizontally when flying below 10,000 feet
  • Minimum visibility requirements of 5 miles when flying above 10,000 feet
  • Cloud clearance minimums above 10,000 feet are 1,000 feet below, 1,000 feet above, and 1 mile horizontally
  • No specific equipment requirements

There have been a series of submissions calling for a different model.

The GFA says:

Airservices Australia has put in a proposal to lower the 8500-foot Class E airspace base between Cairns and Melbourne to 1500 feet AGL, a move that would eradicate most of the Class G airspace on the eastern seaboard.

The proposal has been given a very short consultation period and has not been accompanied by a safety case, which–along with the prospect of losing Class G–has raised the ire of many stakeholder groups.

RAus says:

Australian Class E airspace mandates a requirement for aircraft operating in the airspace to be fitted with a serviceable transponder unless the aircraft is exempt (gliders and other non-engine driven aircraft or aircraft with no electrical system capable of powering a transponder).

Additionally, this proposal would see the requirement for being fitted with dual serviceable VHF radio capable of ‘continuous two way’ communications. Low cost ADS-B and non TSO’d alternatives to Mode A/C or S transponders such as Sky Echo or Flarm equipment commonly used in gliders are not compliant to the requirements of Class E – refer CAO 20.18 and AIP for further information.

Reading:

Gliding Federation [GFA]

RAAus

Northern Users

The ASA response:

The refined design seeks to:

  • improve safety of Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) operations by providing a more effective risk control against conflict/collision risk than pilot-separation
  • minimise adverse impact on the needs of airspace users, particularly general aviation operators, that will continue to require access to Class G airspace, including those without necessary transponder or radio equipment
  • provide more levels to cater for safety of operations outside proposed Class E airspace to avoid terrain (including a minimum of 1,360ft of Class G airspace between terrain and the base of Class E airspace in mountainous areas) and cope with convective weather
  • remove potential for confusion regarding the operation of aircraft in Class E or Class G airspace, and which frequency the pilot should be on, by referencing airspace levels to AMSL
  • reduce the impact of frequency transfer during critical high-workload phases of flight between area frequency and Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF) while transiting across Class E and Class G airspace.

The ASA reasons:

In recent times there has been a relatively significant change in airspace usage and risk profile. While there has been an overall reduction in air traffic due to the COVID-19 crisis, we have seen in a surge in general aviation activities. We also expect the traffic mix and interactions between diverse types of airspace users to continue to change dynamically in response to the Government support for tourism recovery and regional aviation development, as we start to emerge from the pandemic.

This increased airspace complexity requires us to rethink traditional service provision and ensure that we are proactively adjusting to new and emerging risks. We also have had the opportunity to learn from recent safety occurrences, particularly in areas where there is a reliance on pilots self-separation.

The primary driver of the proposal is to deliver a net safety benefit to industry with minimal adverse impact on access, cost and other needs of individual airspace users. We aim to achieve this outcome by:

  • proactively reducing the conflict/collision risk between IFR and IFR aircraft in proposed airspace volumes that will be changed from Class G to Class E
  • retaining a portion of Class G airspace to meet the needs of non-transponder equipped aircraft and as part of supporting the general aviation sector.

There is NO data to support these assertions.

In fact, COVID has seen significant drops in traffic and this veiled “..dash for cash…” is not a valid reason for a change of this magnitude, where there has been no data shown in support.

And the e-mail:

Airservices Stakeholder Engagement

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