Letter To The Editor

Response to The Australian

14 Jul 2015

Dear Mr Mathieson,

Your article today, ‘Air safety body fails to follow own plan’ (14 July 2015) has several inaccuracies and continues to make misleading claims about Airservices and aviation safety in Tasmania.

The article and headline assert that the Tasmanian Wide Area Multilateration (WAM) ‘radar’ system did not meet its intended objectives. As we have previously advised The Australian, this is not the case. The implementation of WAM in Tasmania does what it was intended to do by providing better air traffic surveillance across the state and ensuring that passenger flights to Hobart and Launceston are displayed to air traffic controllers throughout their entire flight.

Your assertion that the system ‘cannot be relied upon below 7000 feet’ is incorrect and misleading. The system works accurately and gives air traffic controllers visibility of aircraft down to the ground at Hobart and Launceston.

It is also incorrect and misleading to claim that CASA ‘refused to approve the system’s use below 7000 feet’. We never sought CASA approval for WAM to be used for separation below 7000 feet because the traffic levels are low (about 70 flights per day at Hobart and 60 at Launceston) and there is not the same need for close aircraft spacing that there is in busy locations (such as Melbourne with more than 600 flights per day or Sydney with more than 900 flights per day).

We again ask that you refrain from making these inaccurate and misleading claims and publish corrections at the earliest opportunity.

This is the second time we have had to write to The Australian to seek corrections in relation to articles on TASWAM. It is now the sixth time we’ve written to you since 15 June 2015 in relation to 10 articles that are inaccurate, misleading and biased against Airservices.

The WAM system in Tasmania not only supports air traffic controllers in providing services that keep flights safely separated from other traffic but also enables controllers to assist pilots with navigation, weather or terrain avoidance which is contrary to the claims made in your article.

All passenger aircraft flying into Hobart and Launceston are under air traffic control 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with services meeting all the strict safety requirements of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

Airservices is committed to delivering safe and efficient air traffic services that meet government policy objectives, regulatory requirements and the needs of our customers.

Yours sincerely


Mairi Barton
Executive General Manager
Corporate and Industry Affairs
14 July 2015