The following content has been obtained from a 2015 archive of the old SkyHigh website (the Frank Adler version) so links and information are still being checked for currency. Please advise of any errors found.
The intention of this page is to provide some information and tools to increase awareness of airspace restrictions we are likely to encounter when paragliding in and around Melbourne. We first look at General airspace information, then specifics by site and at the bottom you can find some tips on how to put the information to work in your GPS.
NOTE - There are other legal aspects you need to consider when paragliding in AU! Before you brag on about your epic flights on XContest some other things you might want to consider are:
- Do you have/need a VHF Radio Operator License?
- Are you staying within the max. distance allowed by your pilot rating?
- Do you have the required HGFA membership and other insurance?
- And finally: Airspace restrictions. For more info read on...
WARNING - Airspace definitions change constantly - As such the information and links provided below are LIKELY to be OUT OF DATE! Please consider using a commercial product to ensure accuracy of the information provided.
The Skyhigh Paragliding Club and its representatives will take no responsibility what-so-ever for the accuracy or validity of the content provided below.
Be aware of potentially severe consequences of airspace violations and use entirely at your own risk!
General Airspace Information
- Introduction to the concept of airspace - here.
- Airservices Australia provides the 'Designated Airspace Handbook (DAH)' with detailed parameters for all AU airspace .
- For a description of the different Airspace Classes in Australia (and world-wide) visit wikipedia here or see below.
- HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: An overview of Australian Airspace Regulations is by RecreationalFlying.com
- Interesting read on Airspace Infringements , including the Melbourne infringement hotspots
- Casa Operations Standards in the vicinity of non-controlled aerodromes (CAR 166)
- For the Casa VFR Pilot Handbook (Chapter 3) on Airspace classes.
Airspace is a national matter and different classes and rules are used and referenced around the world. Likewise different flight instruments will list different airspace classes. The most common are listed below. Do NOT rely on this data for GA purposes - visit your local Aviation Authority for reliable information!
Australia has adopted a civil airspace system based on the United States National Airspace System (NAS) as follows:
- Class A is used above FL 180 along the populated coastal areas, and above FL 245 elsewhere.
- Class B is not used.
- Class C is used in a 360° funnel shape in the Terminal Control Zones of the major international airports, extending up to the base of the Class A, generally at FL 180 over these airports. It also overlays Class D airspace at smaller airports.
- Class D is used for the Terminal Control Zones of medium sized airports, extending from the surface up to 2,500 feet (760 m) AGL (depicted in MSL on a chart). Above this, Class C airspace is used, although generally only in a sector, and not 360° around the airport.
- Class E is used along the populated coastal areas, generally from 8,500 feet (2,590 m) to the base of the overlying Class A or Class C airspace.
- Class F is not used.
- Class G is used wherever other classes are not—almost always from the surface to the base of the overlying Class A, C, D or E airspace.
Additional classes which are noteworthy:
- Class P - (Prohibited) Entry is prohibited. Class P is usually of temporary nature.
- Class R - (Restricted) Typically used by military operations for excercises with live weapons. Restricted areas extend from a lower level (often the surface) to a nominated upper level. Flight within that airspace may be restricted at all times, or may be allowed at times when the restricted area is not active.
- Class D - (Danger) Entry is permitted but extra caution should be taken.
- Class Q - (indicated on iPhone FlySkyHigh app) - t.b.d.
CTAF - Non-controlled airfields which use 'common traffic advisory frequencies '. Entry into a 10nm radius requires a VHF radio operator license and radio. Please visit the link on CAR166 above. For pilots with a VHF license the RecreationalFlying.com provides a summary on VHF communications.
Airspace Tools / Websites
In no particular order...
OpenAir Format airspace files worldwide can be obtained from http://www.maddyhome.com/ctr/ Make sure to change the file extension from .fas to .txt to ensure compatibility with most of the tools. Also note that this tool allows you to download airspace specifically for an area selected on a map! (Check the validity date under Country Information)
AirCheck - allows .igc uploads to check whether you have violated any airspace (highly recommended before any flight uploads to XContest etc.). It also provides OpenAir files for popular airspace subsets under 'Credits'. http://xcaustralia.org/aircheck/
As the thorough approach you can purchase the 'Melbourne VNC' (visual navigational chart) on-line from Airservices Australia. VNC's are great as they have a lot of geographical information, land marks, etc, which is useful for us as we fly visually in the extreme. http://www.theaviatorstore.com.au/vnc-visual-navigation-chart-p-352.html
Ozrunways app gives you all Australian VFR charts and ERSA. You can have the appropriate chart (Melb. VNC for example) with your current location displayed as a GPS map display on your smart phone where you will be able to accurately navigate away from controlled airspace. http://www.ozrunways.com/site/
Free Open Air Format CTR files for Australia can be obtained from http://soaringweb.org/Airspace/AU
The VHPA siteguide provides a Google Earth version of relevant airspace for the area: Click "View in Google Earth" on http://www.vhpa.org.au/siteguide.html (In Google Earth, switch on the'Airspace' item on the left which is off by default)
Google Earth World-wide airspace information can also be obtained here: http://www.lloydbailey.net/airspace.html
Garmin provides free airspace information such as... Garmin mapping GPSr (via MapSource): http://www.dfc-saar.de/GPS/Luftraeume/files/Gen2/files/2011/Setup_Airspace.exe
(From www.dfc-saar.de/GPS/Luftraeume/luftraeume_garmin.htm )
Official information on AU airspace is available from: http://www.airservicesaustralia.com , for example at http://www.airservicesaustralia.com/aip/aip.asp .
Reference points for airspace e.g. center of a circle etc. can be obtained from the Designated Airspace Handbook (DAH) published by airservices. This has all airspace listed and can be used to plot your own maps etc. The centre point for e.g. the Flowerdale airspace restrictions is the location of a navigation aid called a DME (distance measuring equipment) at Melbourne Tullamarine. This is so aircraft fitted with DME know how far they are from this point and whether they are in airspace or not. The DAH as a downloadable pdf (please make sure to check it is still current before using it) can be found here:http://www.airservicesaustralia.com/aip/pending/dah/dah.pdf
Airspace restrictions by site
Please note that the descriptions below only reflect a small collection of the most common airspace restrictions we are likely to encounter on our day-to-day flights around Melbourne. It is NOT suitable to exclusively use this information to plan long distance XC flights. The Skyhigh Club provides this info as is (current at Nov. 2011) and does not take any responsibility for the information provided below.
The Flowerdale take-off is in very close vicinity to Melbourne Tullamarine airspace. The lower airspace segment with a max height of 4500ft (1370m) starts basically at the left-hand side of the hill (about where the steepest part at the top of the track is). Whilst the take-off is within airspace restricting us to a max altitude of 8500ft (2590m) a typical cross-country flight south towards Glenbourn without a GPS is VERY likely to take you into restriced airspace with a ceiling of 4500ft (1370m). The following image outlines the airspace boundaries:
The relevant airspace definition for general aviation (which we are NOT allowed to fly in) is:YMMM/MELBOURNE CTA C5LATERAL LIMITS: A circle of 30.00NM radius centred on37 39 36S 144 50 32E (ML/DME)VERTICAL LIMITS: 4500 - 8500
Note that the coordinates above are provided as deg, min, sec. You can download the airspace depicted above as a txt file or as a gpx file (just copy into notepad and save as .txt or .gpx) to allow you to import it as airspace into your GPS.
Once you are clear on which information you need the next challenge is to get the airspace restrictions into our GPS so we can actually use them in flight.
GPS Dump refers to airspace as CTRs and has a whole menu with all required options dedicated to it.
To upload the airspace files provided above for download above follow these steps:
- Download GPSDump and download airspace as a txt or gpx file.
- In GPS Dump go to CTR > Read CTR from File > ...and select the downloaded file.
- Go to CTR > Send CTR to [gpsname]
CompGPS can display CTRs as well however modifications etc. are somewhat limited. To display an airspace file in CompGPS, please download the gpx file and open it in CompGPS.
Airtome is free software with similar functionality as CompGPS - Logbook, track visualisation and analysis but also it allows the import and display of OpenAir files. This comes in really handy when checking and visualising Airspace in preparation and analysis of your flights. The program can be downloaded here: http://airtome.origo.ethz.ch/
To import the Openair files into Airtome you need to rename the files to have the extension .openair.txt (e.g. AU2011.openair.txt) and copy them directly to the Airtome program directory. After a restart of the software you should be able to see the airspace.
Standards - If you want to modify your CTR files or create new ones, the following link might shed some light on the abbreviations and format used in the OpenAir standard (edit in GPS dump in text editor): http://www.winpilot.com/UsersGuide/UserAirspace.asp