Safety aired at airports conference

CASA at AAA Conference, Hobart 2015
CASA at AAA Conference, Hobart 2015

The safety role of airports, and everyone who works on them was a prominent theme at the Australian Airports Association conference in Hobart last week.

Growth, and its challenges, quickly emerged as a theme of the conference. One of the opening speakers, demographer Bernard Salt, used a combination of population data and behavioural observations to predict demand at future airports. Salt predicts mid-sized population centres on the Australian coast will experience an air transport boom over and above the national average growth.

Phil Kernick, general manager of CQR Consulting, presented on potential cyber-attacks and how airports can best protect themselves against future risks. Among his themes were that opening an unverified attachment on an email was the virtual equivalent of leaving an airport gate unlocked.

Realism and effectiveness in airport emergency drills was covered in depth by Jill Brix, Operations and Standards Manager of Townsville Airport. At Townsville, drills run in conjunction with the army and air force presence in the city make extensive use of gory ‘moulage’ make-up techniques used to inure against shock in medical students.

CASA Safety Performance Specialist, Ashley McAlpine, spoke on aerodrome sector risk profiling. In the risk profile process, industry and CASA aerodrome specialists work together to identify key sector risk factors and safety-related trends; and then share best-practice safety solutions, monitoring the implementation of risk treatments.

Wildlife hazard management was also a prominent theme, with panel discussions and presenters including Brisbane Airport Airside Coordination Manager, Luke Harvey, who outlined the passive and active management strategies Brisbane has adopted as part of its risk-based approach. Deadly force is not always the answer to animal control, Harvey says, noting that killing an animal often opens up a niche for another animal to replace it.

Future editions of Flight Safety Australia will examine these topics in depth.


  1. Re the Airport Association Conference. I am sure that Flight Safety will cover the portion devoted to looking after the airport users, the pilots and passengers of GA aircraft.
    No doubt lots of discussion re access gate codes being readily available to pilots exiting the tarmac (and to return to airside). Also the provision of public toilets within a short distance of that exit gate from airside.
    Vital items for airport users in particular GA pilots and passengers.

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