IOT Air Services—New Instrument Approach Procedures

PDF version

English PDF: 1117 KB

Number: A63/2017

Date: 8 November 2017

Many of you have taken the time to raise concerns with me about the impacts of air services disruptions on community, business and tourism. I have been following up on these issues and, like you, was disappointed with the technical disruption to last Saturday's flight. While I understand the mechanical issues were unavoidable. .will be championing for better outcomes for our air services.

I am, however, pleased to confirm progress with addressing weather-related issues, with the introduction of new aircraft instrument approach procedures (Baro-VNAV) to both of our local airports.

The new Baro-VNAV procedure will mean that suitably equipped aircraft can get 200 feet lower and half a mile closer to the runway before pilots have to make a decision about whether they can continue the approach to land safely at the airport. Virgin Australia's A32.aircraft and the Boein.737 freighter are both equipped to make use of the new approach procedures. As we know, weather events, low cloud and limited visibility on Christmas Island in particular can cause disruptions to the IOT air services, so the new approach procedures are very welcome!

It is expected that the new approach procedures will become effective at Christmas Island Airport on .November 2017, and Cocos (Keeling) Islands Airport during February 2018, and that they will improve aircraft operations to the Territories and contribute to improved reliability of the flights, although there is no guarantee that aircraft will be able to land in all poor weather situations.

I place on record my thanks to the Australian Government agencies who worked collaboratively to establish these new procedures, including the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Airservices Australia , the Department of Defence and the Bureau of Meteorology. I also acknowledge the work of the Hon Fiona Nash, the IOT Regional Development Organisation and Toll Global Logistics for their roles in supporting improvements in aircraft operations.

For those who are interested in some of the more technical information about the Baro-VNAV procedures, please see below.

Natasha Griggs
Territories of Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands

Background to the introduction of Barometric Vertical Navigation (Baro-VNAV) to the Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands airports.

Aircraft captains have responsibility for operating the aircraft and passenger safety, with a pilot's decision to land made at a prescribed altitude and according to minimum requirements for visibility.

Barometric Vertical Navigation (Baro-VNAV) can be flown by suitably equipped aircraft at aerodromes with a suitable weather information service which provides accurate temperature and atmospheric pressure data at the aerodrome surface.

The new instrument approach procedures utilise lateral and vertical guidance, the Area Navigation Global Navigation Satellite System, with an Approach with Vertical Guidance (Baro-VNAV). The new Baro-VNAV approach to landing procedures at the Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island Airports have been flight validated by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA). The Departure and Approach Procedures (DAP) are published by Airservices Australia as part of the regular cycle of updates to Australia's Integrated Aeronautical Information Package (IAIP).

The introduction of Approach to Landing Procedures with Vertical Guidance (APV) has been identified by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) as an internationally significant measure to reducing accidents involving Controlled Flight into Terrain (CFIT). One of the means of achieving APV is through the implementation of Baro-VNAV approach to landing procedures.

The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, in consultation with CASA, Airservices, the Department of Defence and the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM), finalised and released in late-2016, Australia's policy on the national roll-out of Baro-VNAV procedures. Over 100 locations were identified for the introduction of Baro-VNAV procedures using several criteria (e.g. the airport is served by regular public transport and other passenger transport operations), and included locations such as the Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island Airports.

The new Baro-VNAV approach procedures at both locations provide the opportunity for significant operational safety and efficiency advantages in descent and visibility minima, compared to the existing Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) procedures and VHF Omni-directional Radio Range (VOR) procedures.