Australia Modifies Airspace Rules

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Australia's government is furiously backpedaling from sweeping airspace reforms that have drawn fire from all facets of the aviation industry. Airservices Australia announced on Monday that it would implement "safety enhancements" at various airports in an attempt to restore public confidence in the system. Among the fixes are transportable radar systems to fill gaps in coverage and distribution of new charts, this time with air traffic control frequencies printed on them. More changes are expected. Two weeks ago, the government-owned airspace regulator held meetings with representatives from all parts of the aviation industry and was essentially told to scrap what was billed as an American-style system, implemented Nov. 27. The biggest change was the elimination of controlled airspace at altitudes where light aircraft and airliners mix, typically near medium-to-large airports. A near-collision between a light single and an airliner near Launceston, shortly after the reforms were introduced, produced a groundswell of opposition to the new rules. Airline pilots say that unless the new rules are substantially eliminated, they'll take safety into their own hands by slowing their aircraft and making passengers remain buckled up (in case evasive action is needed) at lower altitudes.