Airspace around Ballina Airport will be controlled by air traffic controllers from 2025 as the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and Airservices Australia move to develop services to accommodate the airport’s growth.
The announcement follows an airspace review conducted in 2022 by CASA which included extensive feedback from industry and subsequent discussions with Airservices on timing for the establishment of controlled airspace and air traffic services.
CASA has issued a direction to establish controlled airspace from 2025 and will work closely with Airservices to support airspace design.
In the first phase, the airspace will be reclassified and an approach control service provided by Airservices by 12 June 2025.
The second phase will be the establishment of a new aerodrome control service by Airservices no later than 27 November 2025.
The establishment of improved air traffic services comes on the back of sustained growth in air traffic in the region and is part of a graduated approach to safely accommodate further growth.
‘When we review airspace, it’s important that we look not only at what is happening today, but also to look at growth trends in recent years and what operators are predicting into the future,’ CASA Branch Manager Air Navigation, Airspace and Aerodromes Adrian Slootjes said.
‘We consider a range of data and information, look at incidents and occurrences and take a risk-based approach to our recommendations.
‘While there have been a range of incremental changes and enhancements in aviation safety in the region, we consider these additional changes are required to ensure the safety of passenger transport operations and all airspace users in and around Ballina.’
Improvements already made around Ballina include changes to radio frequencies used by pilots to reduce congestion, provision of a surveillance flight information service to provide pilots with information about other aircraft in the area and the introduction of an automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast ground station to allow appropriately equipped aircraft to be more easily detected by air traffic control.
Work on an Airspace Change Proposal outlining details of the new service and aimed at ensuring it meets necessary requirements will continue throughout 2024.
The timing also allows CASA and Airservices to engage with aviation and community stakeholders, including the sports and recreational aviation community, about safely accessing controlled airspace.