A SAFETY recommendation for Newcastle Airport from the Australian aviation watchdog has been lifted.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) on Thursday announced it would formally close a recommendation to the Department of Defence that came after too many loss of separation incidents.
The recommendation had covered Townsville, Williamtown and Darwin but was no longer required after a "significant" reduction in the number of incidents.
It was made in October 2013 after research into the number of incidents found that a loss of separation occurred about every three days. "In almost 90 per cent of loss of separation occurences, there was no or minimal risk of aircraft colliding," the ATSB reported in 2012. "On average, however, there are six occurrences per year where an elevated risk of collision exists."
This week, ATSB director transport safety Dr Stuart Godley said the trend had shown a reduction in "both the disproportionate risk of loss of separation incidents in military terminal area airspace, particularly around Darwin and Williamtown, as well as the higher rate of air traffic controller actions contributing to loss of separation incidents".
"Follow-up ATSB analysis has found that all three locations had a lower rate of reported ATC-contributed loss of separation incidents from 2013 to 2018 compared to the original research investigation period of 2008 to 2012."
Aircraft separation standards are set to ensure that the chance of a mid-air collision is very remote.Dr Stuart Godley
The three airports all handle both civilian and military traffic, with Defence handling air traffic control.
Dr Godley noted that a loss of separation occurrence does not necessarily mean there was a risk of collision between aircraft, or that the incident was a 'near miss', rather that separation standards were not maintained.
"Aircraft separation standards are set to ensure that the chance of a mid-air collision is very remote," Dr Godley noted.
"When they are infringed, there are fewer defences left to guard against a mid-air collision."