Airservices criticised over OneSky contracts


Airservices did not follow its own policies and procedures in contracting an external company, the International Centre for Complex Project Management (ICCPM), to provide services related to the OneSky project, the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) has found.

At the request of the Senate Rural Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, the ANAO conducted an audit into Airservices’ oversight and implementation of OneSky, which aims to combine both the civil and military air traffic management systems into one program.

The move to have ANAO look into the matter came after a parliamentary committee in August and September 2015 raised questions surrounding the OneSky tender process, particularly after Airservices contracted ICCPM in 2012 to establish the request for tender.

Specifically, the committee heard examples that could give rise to perceptions of conflict of interest.

The ANAO report, published on Wednesday, examined whether Airservices had effective procurement arrangements in place, with a particular emphasis on whether consultancy contracts entered into with ICCPM in association with the OneSky Australia program were effectively administered.

It said Airservices did not prepare a business case for its strategic partnership with ICCMP.

Moreover, the ANAO said “no performance indicators were established to enable monitoring and evaluation of whether the partnership was delivering the expected benefits”.

“A key shortcoming in Airservices’ procurement policies and procedures is that they do not give appropriate emphasis to the use of competitive processes,” the ANAO report said.

“In addition, Airservices routinely failed to adhere to its policies and procedures in procuring services from ICCPM. As a result, Airservices’ procurement of services from ICCPM, on an exclusively sole-sourced basis, did not deliver value for money.”

In September 2015, the Senate Committee heard Steve Hein, who was for a period of time Airservices’ executive general manager of future service delivery, worked previously at ICCPM. His wife Deborah Hein is chief executive of ICCPM. In one instance, the Senate committee heard Steve Hein signed a quotation from Deborah Hein for the cost of contracting two people from ICCPM that was being forwarded to the Airservices chief executive for consideration.

Also, the then chairman of ICCPM Chris Jenkins, was at the time was the managing director of the company that won the tender as the successful supplier to commence work on the Onesky project, Thales.

The report said Airservices had agreed to pay ICCPM total fees of more than $9 million under various contractual arrangements. Daily rates for individual contractors were between $1,500 and $5,000 for an eight-hour day.

The ANAO said Airservices “demonstrated a lack of organisational commitment to the effective implementation of probity principles in respect to the ICCPM arrangements”.

It was also “common” for Airservices to depart from its documented procurement policies and procedures for the various ICCPM procurements, with internal controls “regularly bypassed”.

“Where they were applied, the controls were often ineffective,” the ANAO said.

“In addition, the records made by Airservices of each procurement decision were often perfunctory. This approach to recording decisions to spend money, together with internal controls being bypassed, contributed to a lack of transparency over the decisions to procure services from, or through, ICCPM.”

The ANAO report included six recommendations, including that Airservices “address systemic failures in the adherence to the organisation’s procurement policies and procedures and the cultural underpinnings of those failures”, improve its procurement framework and enhance its procedures for managing probity in procurement processes.

Airservices said in a statement in response to the report it had accepted all the recommendations, noting actions to address each of the recommendations were near completion.

“Airservices acknowledges it can improve its procurement processes and better manage perceived conflicts of interest,” it said.

“While Airservices recognises improvements can be made with respect to procurement, we have full confidence in the tender evaluation process established for the OneSKY Australia program and are satisfied that the governance arrangements surrounding the tender evaluation were extremely robust.”

“We look forward to progressing the implementation of Australia’s next generation civil-military air traffic management system, which is critical for the continued growth of Australia’s aviation sector.”

The full report can be read on the ANAO website.

The ANAO would also examine in a second performance audit the conduct of the OneSky tender process “from initiation to finalisation of the election and contracting process, with a focus on the achievement of value with public resources in accordance with appropriate probity protocols”.

“The consideration of any probity impacts on the tender process will be examined within the scope of the second audit,” the ANAO said.


Australian Aviation

Airservices to begin turning off ground-based navaids from May 26


Airservices is reminding pilots 179 ground-based navigation aids will be progressively switched off from 0400 Thursday.

The decommissioning, which also affects associated non-precision approach procedures, is prescribed in Civil Aviation Order 20.18 and comes after the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) mandated the use of GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) as the primary needs of navigation for IFR aircraft from February 4 2016.

Airservices said many of these ground-based navigation aids, comprising NDBs, VORs and DMEs, were at an age where they were beyond their expected operational life and now obsolete due to advances in technology.

“Withdrawn procedures will be replaced with straight-in area navigation (RNAV) approach procedures that perform the same function,” Airservices said on Tuesday.

“At many airports, RNAV approach procedures will be provided at both ends of the runway, essentially duplicating the navigation service.”

Airservices said it had issued three types of Notices to Airmen (NOTAMS) in May alerting operators to the progressive shutdown, which was expected to take about six weeks.

“The NOTAMs advise that the aids should not be used for navigation purposes even though they may still be transmitting an IDENT,” Airservices said.

But writing in the June edition of Australian Aviation, Regional Aviation Association of Australia (RAAA) chief executive Mike Higgins described the decommissioning as “too fast too soon”, and in particular would impact IFR pilot training.

While Higgins said the Navigation Rationalisation Project (NRP) was a worthy one as the industry transitioned to satellite-based navigation, he expressed concerns it would have the “unintended consequence of dramatically increasing the likelihood of a near miss (or worse) over an increasingly congested airspace around NDBs in particular”.

“CASR Part 61 requires using navigation aids for IFR training and both 2D and 3D approaches are required to be tested – and therefore trained – in an actual aircraft,” Higgins observed.

As a result the RAAA has called for the project to be stopped.

“The RAAA calls for a temporary moratorium on any further decommissioning,” Higgins wrote.

“Clearly we need a collaborative approach to ‘take a closer look’ at the decommissioning dates until we can design a more considered and safety-focused approach, rather than a calendar-driven approach.

“An objective starting point would be the risk assessment data previously considered as part of the decommissioning change management plan and the risk mitigation procedures that were considered as part of the increasing IFR flights around decreasing aids. Next would be an assessment of the planned IFR training needs over the next say five years.”

In its statement Airservices said it “consulted extensively on the changes”.


Australian Aviation

Airservices appoints new chief executive

 Jason Harfield speaking at Airservices 2015 industry conference Waypoint. (Airservices)

Airservices has appointed Jason Harfield as its new chief executive, effective immediately.

The announcement on Wednesday afternoon makes permanent a role Harfield has held on an acting basis since former chief executive Margaret Staib left the organisation in August 2015.

Airservices said Harfield’s appointment came after an “extensive executive search conducted with the assistance of a leading international executive recruitment firm”.

“The board reviewed an extensive field of candidates and concluded that Mr Harfield offered the right blend of experience, skill and drive to lead the organisation,” Airservices chairman Sir Angus Houston said in a statement.

Prior to taking the role as acting chief executive, Harfield was Airservices general manager for future service delivery, with his primary responsibility the OneSky project, which aims to combine the separate civil and defence air traffic management systems into the one platform.

Other Airservices roles included being general manager for safety management and executive general manager for air traffic control group.

He also worked as a qualified operational air traffic controller, rising through the ranks to the title of Australia’s head air traffic controller.

In addition to the various roles at Airservices, Harfield is a fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, a fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and a private pilot.


Australian Aviation

Airservices’ graduates begin work

Thirty-two graduates of Airservices’ Diploma of Aviation (Air Traffic Control) have commenced work with the nation’s air traffic controller after completing the 24-month course and obtaining their Air Traffic Control licence rating and endorsement.

The 32 graduates of Airservices' Diploma of Aviation (Air Traffic Control) at their graduation ceremony in Brisbane. (Airservices)

The eight women and 24 men have been variously assigned to control towers in Brisbane, Cairns, Parafield and Rockhampton, as well as the Brisbane en route centre, Airservices said in a statement on Friday.

“Four families welcomed a second generation of air traffic controllers with one graduate following in the footsteps of both his father and uncle,” Airservices said.

Airservices general manager learning academy Linda Spurr said the Diploma of Aviation (Air Traffic Control) was developed specifically for the local aviation industry and graduates have completed “hundreds of hours” of classroom and simulator-based learning.

The graduates will add to the more than 1,000 air traffic controllers that work for Airservices.

Australian Aviation

Royal Aeronautical Society signs Airservices as new corporate partner

Airservices manager for corporate communication Rob Walker and RAeS Australian Division president John Vincent after signing the corporate partnership. (Airservices)

The Australian division of the Royal Aeronautical Society has signed up Airservices as a new corporate partner.

Airservices says it will participate in mentoring and professional development programs, as well as “actively contribute to education and information exchange within the aviation industry across Australia and around the world” as part of the partnership.

Airservices executive general manager for air traffic control Greg Hood says the partnership gives the nation’s air traffic manager the opportunity to play a greater role in the aerospace industry.

“We have a strong interest in investing in the development of aviation in Australia, not just for the benefit of Airservices but for the benefit of all Australians,” Hood said in a statement.

“We are also very lucky to have a number of staff who have been recognised and are fellows and members of the society.

“We want to continue to contribute to the conversation about the future of aerospace while partnering with an organisation that has a strong commitment to enhancing best practice and professional development in the aerospace community.”

The official signing of the corporate partnership took place after the Royal Aeronautical Society Australian division business lunch in Sydney on Wednesday, which featured Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce as guest speaker.


Australian Aviation

Airservices seeking feedback on new long term pricing agreement

Airservices logo.

Airservices is seeking to raise charges for air navigation services by an average of 3.3 per cent a year over the five years from 2016 under its proposed new long term pricing agreement (LTPA).

The nation’s air traffic controller is seeking feedback on the LTPA, which covers charges for its enroute navigation, terminal navigation and aviation rescue and fire fighting (ARFF) services.

It says the price increase would fund new services, deliver safety and flight efficiency improvements and contribute to the development of the OneSky air traffic management system – which will combine Australia’s civil and military air traffic management systems, which are currently separate, into one program – as part of meeting future aviation growth.

And the price hike would follow real price reductions of 20 per cent since the first long term pricing agreement began in 2005, Airservices acting chief financial officer Paul Logan said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Importantly for our customers, the proposal will provide them with price certainty in a dynamic environment through to 2021,” Logan said in a statement.

“We recognise the importance of delivering cost efficient services to industry through containment of price increases and delivering savings to airline operations, particularly the delivery of aircraft fuel savings.

“As we prepare for our future air traffic management system, we need to continue to deliver to our customers and the industry tangible benefits; that of enhanced safety, improved operational efficiencies, reduced fuel costs and improved gate-to-gate performance.”

Under the proposed changes, Airservices said an Airbus A380 travelling from Singapore to Sydney would be charged an additional $589, or $1.74 per passenger. Meanwhile an airline operating a Boeing 737-800 from Brisbane to Melbourne would pay an extra $74, or 63 cents per passenger.

Airservices’ current long term pricing agreement is due to expire on June 30 2016. The organisation released its pricing discussion paper earlier in 2015.

The largest increase would occur in the first year of the proposed agreement LTPA, with a 5.3 per cent increase to cover new and expanded services that were established over the past three years but not included in the current LTPA.

The price jump reduces to 4.4 per cent in year two, before dropping further to 2.9 per cent, 2.3 per cent and 1.4 per cent over the following three years.

The full proposal can be found on the Airservices website, with feedback due by September 11.

Airservices is also holding a number of public consultation forums across the country over the next two weeks, with the details found here.

Adelaide's air traffic control tower features the new INTAS suite. (Airservices)
Adelaide’s air traffic control tower. (Airservices)


Australian Aviation

Airservices signs contracts for Onesky software system

Airservices logo.

Airservices says contracts to design and build the software system for its Onesky air traffic control system have been signed.

The contract signing is the latest step in the development of the new air traffic management system, which aims to combine Australia’s civil and military air traffic management systems, which are currently separate, into one program.

“This contract is one of a series of works orders to enable the progression of the program to modernise air traffic management by 2021,” Airservices said in a statement on July 23.

Thales signed a “forward services contract” with the Airservices at the Avalon Airshow in February after the company was chosen as the successful supplier to start work on the system.

Parts of the Onesky system were expected to be operating by 2018, with the full rollout due to be completed in 2021.


Australian Aviation

Airservices welcomes latest batch of fire fighting graduates

The graduating class from Airservices fire fighting course at Melbourne Airport in 2015. (Airservices)
The graduating class from Airservices fire fighting course at Melbourne Airport in 2015. (Airservices)

Airservices has 17 newly qualified aviation rescue fire fighters following the end of an 11-week training course.

The 17 men and women have graduated from the Airservice Learning Academy course at Melbourne Airport, having undertaken theoretical and practical training that included simulated aircraft and structural fires.

Members of graduating class have been stationed at various airports around Australia, including newly opened fire stations at Gladstone and Newman.

“The fire fighters will join highly trained teams which provide a vital layer of safety for all users of the airport,” Airservices executive general manager for aviation rescue fire fighting Michelle Bennetts said.

“The aviation rescue fire fighting service enhances the airport’s capability to safely service future growth beyond current annual traffic levels.”

Airservices said in a statement on Friday Ballina and Coffs Harbour airports would also get new fire stations in the coming months.

Airservices fire fighters inspect the wheel brakes of a Qantas 747-400 shortly after landing at Illawarra Regional Airport. (Seth Jaworski/Airservices)
Airservices fire fighters inspect the wheel brakes of a Qantas 747-400 shortly after landing at Illawarra Regional Airport. (Seth Jaworski/Airservices)


Australian Aviation

Airservices wins training award

Airservices logo.

Airservices has received a Transport and Logistics Industry Skills Council (TLISC) award for its approach to recruiting and training air traffic controllers.

Australia’s air traffic manager took out the Innovation and Excellence in Workforce Development Award at the TLISC Awards held in Melbourne on Thursday for its unique curriculum, world-class facilities and expert training.

“Airservices faces some significant workforce challenges as we manage current and future industry requirements,” Airservices Learning Academy general manager Linda Spurr said in a statement.

“The training initiatives and improvements we have introduced ensure we are well positioned to meet the expected growth in air traffic activity over coming decades.”

TLISC chief executive Robert Adams said Airservices had gone to extra lengths to adapt its training and workforce development to meet the needs of today’s aviation industry.

“The imaginative and successful approach taken by Airservices Australia is to be applauded, and is a fine example of how the training system can be extended to address a major operational challenge,” Adams said in a statement.

Separately, a recent graduate of the Airservices Learning Academy Guy Lewin was recognised as a TLISC trainee of the year finalist.



Australian Aviation