Low level and high level airspace is being transformed at a rapid rate by the emergence of new airspace users and technology. This transformation requires a step change in the way we do business so we can continue to meet our legislative obligations of providing safe, efficient, and reliable airspace management services while also ensuring equitable access to all airspace users to this this finite and national resource.
Low Level Airspace Program
To assist us manage the transformation that is occurring, we have established a Program to develop and test new service offerings in lower and upper level airspace. The Program focuses on three key areas:
- Aerodrome Boundary Management
- UTM/CTMS Information Flow and Management; and
- Airspace Design
Airservices has partnered with CASA and Defence to deliver one of the most extensive national drone detection systems in the world.
We are taking a risk-based approach and trialling passive detection technology at 29 airports around the country. These airports are where we have an air traffic control service, typically have the highest traffic numbers, and are where drones could pose the most risk.
We are taking a phased approach (see diagram below) with phase 1 completed and phase 2 and 3 underway.
A fourth phase of the drone surveillance program is to test different drone surveillance technologies. Based on an analysis of risk through the baseline capability already deployed, we intend to implement additional surveillance systems to ensure as near to complete coverage of all drone types and scenarios at locations that warrant it.
The different types of technology include active radar, passive RF intercept, visual, audio, and signal processing of existing RF transmissions to identify interference representing drones.We have not yet determined the most appropriate mix, nor which locations warrant the more robust capability, but will progress this work over the next 6-12 months.
2. UTM/CTMS Information Flow management
Airservices needs to ensure that new airspace users (such as Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) and Urban Air Mobility (UAM) operators, high altitude balloons and pseudo satellites), are safely integrated into Australia’s overall air traffic management system.
Globally, it is broadly accepted that a core element of enabling this integration is through a Flight Information Management System (FIMS). Today, we are legally obligated to ensure that current airspace users, required to or choosing to use our services, are protected in airspace that may be shared with new airspace users. FIMS will be Airservices’ solution to ensure safe integration of these new and emerging airspace users.
3. Airspace Design
To ensure airspace is designed that maximises safety, efficiency and fairness outcomes, Airservices is exploring new approaches, standards, and requirements for airspace and flight path design in concert with CASA. This includes identifying where UTM will be required and what services might be necessary to achieve required outcomes. Different classes of airspace (in addition to the current suite of A, B, C, D, E, and G) are expected to ensure fit for purpose provision of services to UTM and CTMS users.