New Air Traffic Controller System

A new air traffic controller system could be implemented at Wagga Airport in the near future as the volume of aircraft using the terminal increases and prompts fears of mid-air collisions.

Wagga councilor Clint Uden raised the flag and council staff is now preparing a report into the cost and effectiveness of a controller.

Currently Wagga Airport operates like many small ones, where pilots liaise with each other to make sure the airways are clear for take-off and landing.

The report will look into employing controllers on the ground to direct pilots, as is the system in major airports.

"It's inevitable with the amount of movements out there that we will need to do this," Cr Uden said.

Cr Uden's report to council drew on Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) projections for the volume of aircraft at the airport.

By those calculations it would be recommended to implement an air traffic controller this year.

CASA acting manager of airspace change Martin Holberton said Wagga was going through a transition between being a small and large airport, and the issue of a controller would be the subject of CASA's own review later this year.

But he said projections from the report council was looking at hadn't materialized, so the urgency wasn't there just yet.

"It's not just the number of aircraft (that is taken into consideration), but also the types of aircraft," he said.

Mr. Holberton said the establishment of the pilot training academy at the airport in May 2010 had drastically increased the volume of traffic and brought forward consideration for a controller to be employed by a number of years. He said council and CASA were in constant discussion over aviation safety.

CASA held a well-attended workshop with pilots to bring them up to speed with the latest in safety procedures. Council will review its staff report at the monthly meeting on February 27 and decide how to proceed.