Draft Ballina airspace review

Closed 17 Jul 2022

Opened 16 Jun 2022

Feedback updated 15 Dec 2022

We asked

We asked industry to provide feedback on the draft Airspace Review of Ballina conducted by CASA’s Office of Airspace Regulation (OAR). This aeronautical study assessed the airspace within the vicinity of Ballina from the surface to 8,500 feet above mean sea level.

The consultation was open from 16 June until 17 July 2022.

We sought feedback from airspace users via a survey, drawing on the contents of the airspace review. The review had identified 3 areas of concern:

  • frequency congestion
  • heightened risk of separation incidents
  • situational awareness.

To address these concerns and improve safety, the review proposed 9 recommendations. They represent a graduated approach to reducing airspace risk at Ballina, intending to build up to a controlled aerodrome service with an associated control zone and control area steps.

You said

We received 148 submissions via the survey and email.

Responses were received from a variety of airspace users. Most were from airlines, aerial work operators, flight training, air transport licence holders, commercial licence holders, private/recreational pilots, sports aviation pilots and air navigation service provider staff.

The reduction of airspace risk was widely supported. There was virtually no opposition to the importance of airspace safety and strong support to improve safety in and around Ballina.

There were some differences in opinion regarding the appropriateness, timing and phased implementation of the recommended measures.

There were a small number of remarks regarding the cost associated with the recommendations. Some preferred more cost-effective solutions such as the existing SFIS services. The primary concern among the general aviation community was the balance between retaining the current level of access and amenity while deriving the safety dividend.

There were some concerns about airspace efficiency and that controlled airspace constraints may reduce capacity at times. Some expressed the view that the introduction of ATS reduces the efficiency of the airspace due to the separation standards applied to aircraft operating in the area compared to uncontrolled airspace. Some users had concerns about potential delays in obtaining clearances to operate in their usual volumes of airspace.

A common theme was interim solutions should be ICAO-compliant and form part of the enduring solution. Any interim measure should not have to be wound back as subsequent measures are phased in.

Timing of the measures is a critical consideration. Many stakeholders favoured the earliest practical adoption of the measures. There were no comments seeking to delay the initiatives among the vast majority that support the measures, notwithstanding that some respondents preferred the status quo.

We did

Based on the responses received, no changes were made to the recommendations in the draft report however the proposed milestones were revised.

The timelines and milestones for implementing the recommendations will be finalised through further engagement with stakeholders.

Read the full report on the CASA website.

Published responses

View submitted responses where consent has been given to publish the response.

Overview

CASA is seeking your comments on the draft airspace review of Ballina, New South Wales.

The review was conducted to assess current risks and propose solutions. The draft review has identified three areas of concern:

  • Frequency congestion
  • Heightened risk of separation incidents
  • Situational awareness

Nine recommendations to improve safety have been identified through stakeholder engagement and analysis. They are designed to adopt a graduated approach to reducing airspace risk at Ballina intended to build up to a controlled aerodrome service with an associated control zone and control area steps.

We are seeking your feedback on all aspects of the draft review, including the recommendations and timeframes.

Your feedback, together with other evidence and data, will help us continue working with stakeholders to finalise the best way to implement a graduated approach to improve safety and reduce risks.

The final timeframes will be influenced by your feedback and what is realistic for putting the final solutions in place.

More Information

The Office of Airspace Regulation applies a precautionary approach when conducting airspace reviews. The following recommendations are consistent with the CASA Board’s direction that aviation safety risks must be reduced to the lowest practical and proportionate level.

  1. CASA should prepare a Request For Change (RFC) to separate the Lismore and Casino Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF) from the Ballina CTAF by 16 June 2022.
  2. Evans Head Airport should be allocated the common CTAF (126.7 MHz) by 16 June 2022.
  3. CASA should direct Airservices Australia to install an Automatic Dependent Surveillance - Broadcast (ADS-B) ground station in the vicinity of Ballina to improve surveillance as soon as practicable but no later than December 2022. The ground station should, as far as is practical, provide ADS-B surveillance capability to the runway surface.
  4. CASA should explore a suitable regulatory framework that can safely authorise sport and recreational aircraft and pilot certificate holders to operate in the controlled airspace associated with Ballina where pilot certificate holders meet CASA specified competency standards and the aircraft are appropriately equipped.
  5. CASA’s Stakeholder Engagement Division (SED) should conduct additional safety promotion programs in relation to Ballina operations as soon as practicable. The programs should include, but are not limited to the following key elements: reinforce the mandatory radio calls required when operating within the Ballina MBA in the interim, pending the establishment of controlled airspace, and later, provide guidance as to how a Sport Aviation Body might develop a suitable scheme and make application to CASA for approval, under the regulatory framework identified in recommendation 4.
  6. Uncertified aerodromes and flight training areas around Ballina should be promulgated in aeronautical publications to increase pilot situational awareness.
  7. As an interim action pending the completion of Recommendation 8, CASA should make a determination to establish a control area around Ballina Byron Gateway Airport with a base which is as low as possible, and direct Airservices Australia to provide services within the control area. The services should be provided during all periods of scheduled Air Transport Operations and include an Approach Control Service to aircraft operating under the Instrument Flight Rules (IFR), separation between IFR aircraft, VFR traffic information to all aircraft, and sequencing of all aircraft to and from the runway. CASA and Airservices Australia should jointly explore opportunities to detect non-cooperative aircraft or vehicles in the immediate vicinity of the runway. The services should be established as soon as practicable but no later than 15 June 2023.
  8. CASA should make a determination that Ballina Byron Gateway Airport will become a controlled aerodrome with an associated control zone and control area, and direct Airservices Australia to provide an Aerodrome Control Service to the aerodrome. That service should be established as soon as practicable but no later than 30 November 2023.
  9. CASA should prepare and finalise an Airspace Change Proposal (ACP) for a control zone and control area steps in preparation for the implementation of Recommendations 7 and 8.

As part of our graduated approach, we have already introduced the first safety improvement measures (recommendations 1 and 2).

From 16 June new radio frequencies are being introduced to ease congestion and improve safety around Ballina, Lismore, Casino and Evans Head aerodromes. This was introduced early in response to industry feedback, including extensive engagement with stakeholders (such as local flying schools, aero clubs, airspace users, industry bodies) and a public consultation survey in November last year.

Documents for review

Please read the Draft Airspace Review of Ballina, NSW (May 2022) provided at the bottom of this page to help with your submission. 

Why your views matter

We want to hear from as many Ballina area airspace users as possible including local flying schools, aero clubs, operators and industry bodies.

We are seeking feedback on key elements of the graduated approach, including timing.

Your feedback will help us to finalise the Ballina airspace review including recommendations and timings.

Completing the survey

You can choose to comment on as many topics as you like. If you do not have enough time to complete the consultation in one go, don’t worry. You can save your input and come back later.

If you would like to provide further feedback, please email OAR@casa.gov.au. Feedback submitted by email will be considered but cannot be published publicly. 

Further information about airspace regulation and the airspace change process is available on the CASA website.

What happens next

Once the consultation has closed, we will register and review each submission received through the online response form. We will make all submissions publicly available on the Consultation Hub, unless you request your submission remains confidential. We will also publish the final report and recommendations on our website.

Information about how we consult and how to make a confidential submission is available on the CASA website.

To be notified of any future consultations, subscribe to our consultation and rulemaking mailing list.

Audiences

  • CASA Staff
  • Aerodrome operator
  • Air operator
  • Flight instructor and flight examiner
  • Flight training operators
  • Pilots
  • Sports aviation operators
  • Hot air balloon operators
  • Air traffic controller/s
  • Drone operators
  • Air traffic service providers
  • Self-administering aviation organisations
  • Parachute operators
  • Parachuting sport aviation bodies
  • Pilots of parachuting aircraft
  • Parachute maintenance and manufacturing organisations
  • Balloon Instructors and flight examiners
  • Balloon Pilots
  • Balloon Sports aviation operators
  • Flight training organisations

Interests

  • Airspace and infrastructure