Christmas is a busy time for Australian airspace, what with Santa’s sleigh requiring a complex all areas clearance, but this year’s early and intense bushfires have added to the complexity.
So forgive us for stating the obvious, but keep your aircraft away from bushfires.
This applies whether you’re flying a manned or unmanned aircraft.
A current combined flight information region (FIR) NOTAM warns of ‘unnotified intense aviation activity associated with firefighting operations,’ and requests pilots of manned aircraft to remain 5 nm clear of a bushfire horizontally and more than 3000 ft AGL. Unmanned aircraft should only be flown 5 nm horizontally away from a fire and no higher than 120 m or 400 ft AGL.
This is in addition to temporary restricted areas that may be declared near large fires.
CASA acting airspace operations manager Anthony Lawler says there has already been at least one incident where an aircraft inadvertently flew perilously close to a bushfire and compromised airborne firefighting operations. ‘We don’t want to see any more of these,’ he said.