Look out, listen in and speak up at Ballina

Airvan flying along the coast
Airvan flying along the coast. image:: CASA

It’s important for everyone who uses this airport to be on their best game

If you want to see the variety of aviation in Australia, go to Ballina Byron Gateway Airport.

Five airlines fly to the regional airport that serves Byron Bay, northern NSW and the southern Gold Coast hinterland. Ballina is also part of a thriving cluster of general aviation and recreational aviation aerodromes, including Lismore, Casino, Evans Head and Tyagarah.

Its substantial number of regional airline movements plus general aviation, sport aviation and recreational aviation activity, makes Ballina a challenging operating environment for every type of aircraft and pilot that flies there. It is vitally important that everyone who operates in and out of Ballina understands its procedures thoroughly and obeys them precisely.

There is a mandatory broadcast requirement at Ballina. All aircraft flying between the surface and 8500 feet within 10 nautical miles of the airport are required to make radio calls. As an airport in Class G airspace, Ballina does not have a control tower but it does have a certified air/ground radio service (CA/GRS). The service provides pilots with operational information for Ballina on the aerodrome’s CTAF of 124.2 MHz.

As well as broadcasting, there are several other steps you must take to fly safely round Ballina:

  • If you have a transponder and you are VFR, use code 1200 mode C (the code for VFR in Class G airspace). This will help the jets and turboprops know you are around.
  • If you have an ADS-B unit, such as the low-cost ADS-B recently approved by CASA, use it.
  • And, of course, look out for other aircraft and be wary that some of these might not be using their radio as required.

You can learn more about operating in non-controlled airspace from a Flight Safety Australia story published in 2019 and from CASA’s Radio procedures in non-controlled airspace booklet, which is available in print from the CASA Online Store or online free of charge.

CASA airspace and aerodromes staff will be visiting Ballina in late December on an educational tour. Their aim is not to issue penalties but to educate and inform.