Enhancements to air traffic control at Mackay Airport

14 Feb 2014

All aircraft flying into and out of Mackay Airport are now under the control of air traffic controllers 24 hours a day, 365 days a year following the introduction of enhanced approach and surveillance advisory services by Airservices.

The new arrangements mean that controllers from Airservices main air traffic services centre in Brisbane will control and monitor the airspace over Mackay Airport after operational tower hours.

Prior to the changes, aircraft arriving at Mackay after the control tower had closed for the day were only provided full air traffic control services down to approximately 4500 feet (1372 metres). They were then required to broadcast their position on a common radio frequency and requested traffic information from controllers over the radio.

The changes are one example of improvements in air traffic services and surveillance at regional airports currently being completed by Airservices.

Airservices Executive General Manager Air Traffic Control, Greg Hood, said that through using existing surveillance technology such as Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B), controllers in Brisbane were able to ‘see’ aircraft around Mackay Airport on radar screens.

“This means that we are able to provide pilots flying into Mackay with an air traffic control service down to 700 feet or 214 metres,” Mr Hood said. “This allows us to manage the safe and orderly flow of aircraft into and out of Mackay Airport, and ensure that aircraft are appropriately separated from other aircraft operating in the area.

These aircraft are also provided with more accurate local weather information and navigation aid status.”

Mackay Airport General Manager, Rob Porter, said that this would further enhance the safe operation of aircraft flying to and from Mackay Airport.

“Airservices Australia is a key operational partner as we work to deliver effective services and support to aircraft using our airport.” Mr Porter said. “Airservices expansion of air traffic control within our airport vicinity adds a new level of safety to our overall operations and confirms Mackay Airport’s position as Central Queensland’s transport hub servicing our key destinations Whitsundays and the Bowen and Galilee Basins.”

Airservices consulted widely with all aircraft operators and the airport owner prior to the changes being introduced on 21 January 2014. It follows the introduction of similar enhanced air traffic control services at Hobart and Launceston in 2011 and Rockhampton in 2013.

Additional enhancements were made at Sunshine Coast Airport in November 2013, and Alice Springs Airport in December 2013.