Air traffic controllers unite at Avalon

The Australian International Airshow 2023 (AIA23) at Avalon has not only thrilled the crowds and shown off ADF capability but has proven to be a key testing ground for two of Australia’s Air Navigation Service Providers.

CAPTION: Flight Lieutenant Maxim David, from 453 Squadron, and Michael Mihalic, from Airservices Australia, at work in the air traffic control tower at the Australian International Airshow 2023. Story by By Flying Officer Shan Arachchi Galappatthy. Photo by LAC Chris Tsakisiris.

The Royal Australia Air Force and Airservices Australia have been working together at AIA23 for the first time using the same air traffic control endorsements, with Squadron Leader Ash Wright leading the military element as Detachment Commander for the 44 Wing air traffic control officers and communications electronic technicians.

“There has been a large fly-in of international, military and civilian aircraft. The success we have had here at Avalon is indicative of the success we will continue to have with Airservices, and is key to the successful evolution of Australian airspace and associated air traffic services,” Squadron Leader Wright said.

“In previous years, our detachment would contribute to the air show in a liaison capacity. This is the first time we have received civilian control endorsements that allow us to work side by side with our Airservices colleagues.”

For the pilots on the other end of the radio, it is important to note that they won’t be able to differentiate between a military and a civilian controller at Avalon.

“You go up to Avalon tower now and you’ll see a mix of Air Force uniforms and civilian attire. A one-team approach has become the norm,” Squadron Leader Wright said.

“It is vital that for major events like AIA23 our procedures are aligned. Air shows by nature are quite complex events. The fact that we are able to align our procedures with our civilian colleagues allows us to provide a safe, efficient and consistent service for all users of the airfield.”

SQNLDR Wright said leading the first cohort of Air Force air traffic controllers at Avalon had required a lot of hard work by the team, but the reward of a job well done has been worth it.

“Despite the operational tempo we are very lucky to have an office with a great view and we do take time to sit back and absorb what this air show has to offer,” he said.

“I am extremely fortunate to be leading some of the best air traffic controllers and technicians in the Air Force.

“They have made me very proud.”


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