Sunday, June 3, 2012

UAP and aircraft safety in Australia - a review

Hi all,

One of the approaches taken overseas to move away from "traditional" UFO research, has been to replace the term "UFO" with the term "UAP" (Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon) and link it to aviation safety (eg. click here.)

Government agencies:

In Australia, up until 1995, the responsibility for aviation safety lay with the federal Department of Civil Aviation. In July 1995 the Department of Civil Aviation was abolished and replaced by two separate Government bodies, namely Air Services Australia and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

Air Services Australia "Is a government owned corporation providing safe, secure, efficient and environmentally responsible services to the aviation industry." (Click here.) It has responsibility for:

*Airspace management
* Aeronautical information
* Aviation communication
* Radio navigation aides
* Aviation rescue and fire fighting services.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) is an independent statutory authority. CASA's mission is "To enhance and promote aviation safety through effective regulation and by encouraging the wider aviation industry to embrace and deliver high standards of safety."

"CASA's primaru function is to conduct the safety regulation of civil air operations in Australia..."

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB):

A third player in the aviation safety area is the ATSB. "The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) is Australia's national transport safety investigator." (Click here.)

"The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) is Australia's prime agency for the independent investigation of civil aviation accidents, incidents and safety deficiencies. The ATSB is governed by a commission and is entirely separate from transport policy makers, industry operators, and from transport regulators such as the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA.)"

Near misses with UAP:

Overseas there have been reported near misses between aircraft and UAP, thus raising concerns about the safety of aircraft. If such incidents have happened here in Australia, where would we look for details about the incident?

A search through the websites of Air Services Australia; the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau determined that the most likely answer appears to be in the ATSB's listing of "Aviation Safety investigations and reports" (click here.) This currently lists 3,929 incidents which have been investigated. Examples of items from this list are:

*Collision with terrain
* Turbulence event
* Collision with obstacle.

Of particular interest with us are items such as:

*Airprox - VH-PWQ/unknown, PA-34/unknown near Avalon Airport, Victoria, 22 May 2012.
*Airprox - Beech A36, VH-IOL and an unknown aircraft, 49kms Scone Airport, NSW, 26 September 2011.

Air prox meaning an aircraft and something else (usually another aircraft) were closer than they should have been.

Before 2004, the report headings merely listed the aircraft involved. Thus there is no way to tell, without opening every report, is the event was an airprox. The earliest report listed is from 1969.

New ATSB database:

In 2007, the ATSB introduced a new aviation safety database, the "Safety Investigation Information Management System" (SIIMS.) The current ATSB website provides (click here) weekly tables of "Occurrences entered into the ATSB Aviation Safety Database" There are 22 pages of tables going back to 2003. Each table lists dozens of occurrences, ranging from "an aircraft entering restricted airspace without a clearance" to "during the landing roll, the aircraft struck a bird." Most occurrences do not result in an ATSB investigation, meaning they do not make it to the "listing of "Aviation Safety investigations and reports" mentioned above.

Unidentified aircraft:

An examination of the "Occurrences entered into the ATSB Aviation Safety Database" found numerous examples along the lines of:

20 Oct 2006 2006/06277 20km NW Gold Coast Aerodrome, Qld. "An unidentified aircraft was observed on radar to have entered controlled airspace without a clearance."

In each instance I looked at of this kind, it was always "An unidentified aircraft" and no other wording. These instances do not receive further investigation.

In conclusion:

If a near miss between and aircraft and a UAP has happened in Australia, and it was reported as an occurrence to the ATSB, we would expect to be able to find a record of it in the ATSB's SIIMS database.

If any readers has a few hours to spare they might wish to thoroughly examine the  "Occurrences entered into the ATSB Aviation Safety Database" and see if there is any mention of UAP/UFO. I haven't found any so far. Please share if you do find such an occurrence.

2 comments:

  1. Hiya Keith, interesting possibilities in these records.

    I've just scrambled through the first 62 pages of the ATSB looking for 'prox' as a keyword. They are unrecorded in the database from around page 50. This probably indicates a different reporting format or old terminology.

    Of the couple of dozen I found, they all referred to conventional aircraft. One that was more interesting (200604809) involved an unknown conventional aircraft passing within 30m of an inbound Metroliner. They never identified the pilot, craft or anything else. Maybe it was Mr Valentich?!Ha.

    You can speed up the search by using Ctrl +F and entering e.g. 'prox' in the field. This means that you don't have to read the list of reports - simply press 'highlight all' and if it's 'phrase not found' move on to the next page of results.

    Of course, this won't take you into the body of the report, but their titling format seems to be quite accurate regarding content.

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  2. Hi Kandinsky

    Thanks for the searching. I am preparing a second post which will look at my 2004 FOI request to the ATSB, which revealed 9 events in their old OASIS database, where the word UFO appears. I have current FOI requests in with AirServices Australia; CASA and ATSB for any dcouments (including databse entries) which mentions the word "UFO." I will post the results of these FOI requests when they are available.

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