Australian Defence Force air traffic control officers are helping Papua New Guinea’s civilian aviation authorities monitor the skies above Port Moresby during Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings.
CAPTION: Leading Aircraftwoman Alex McClenaghan, a RAAF air surveillance operations operator, monitors the airspace over Port Moresby in support of APEC 2018. Photo by Able Seaman Kieren Whiteley.
Hosting APEC has led to a sharp increase in airspace activity above the PNG capital.
To assist with the congestion, ADF air traffic control specialists were integrated as military liaison officers at Port Moresby’s Jackson International Airport – the home of PNG Air Services Ltd.
Four officers are also embarked in HMAS Adelaide to help coordinate air movements around the ADF’s Maritime Task Group, alongside Captain Randall Hepota, of the PNG Defence Force Air Transport Wing.
HMAS Adelaide is operating in Port Moresby Harbour as a sea base to support the PNG Joint Security Task Force during APEC 2018 Leaders’ Week from 12-18 November.
Squadron Leader Patricia Atkinson, one of two Air Force officers based at Jackson International Airport, said working with her PNG colleagues was a rewarding experience.
“The PNG Air Services team have been incredibly welcoming and highly professional,” Squadron Leader Atkinson said.
“Working together, we have quickly come to achieve seamless coordination, and our PNG colleagues are enjoying the experience of working with fast jets in their airspace, as well as the military helicopters working from HMAS Adelaide.”
The General Manager of PNG Air Services, Captain Ted Paki, said his organisation had worked closely with the ADF over several months to split the airspace into sectors to allow for military aircraft movements.
“PNG has never really had an air force as such, so our entire airspace is civilian,” he said.
“Therefore, our cooperation with the Royal Australian Air Force has been quite critical in ensuring that we not only manage the increase in civilian air traffic for APEC, but also the military operations.
“It’s very important that we have the ADF air traffic controllers to work closely with the PNG Air Services personnel to ensure that both military and civilian aviation don’t conflict within our airspace during APEC.”