...As Australian Airspace Changes In Flux...

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Meanwhile, the rocky implementation of a new Air Traffic Control system in Australia is getting even rockier. On Tuesday, the dispute over the rules went to Federal Court, and outside the courtroom a blindfolded air traffic controller and the brother of a man who died in a plane crash in July met with reporters. The two, along with Dick Smith, the former head of the Australian Civil Aviation Authority, say that lives will be at risk if the country goes ahead with its plan to reverse the safety rules that took effect last year. Smith, who helped to draft the rules, has said the reversal, set to take effect on Nov. 25, will delay equipment upgrades at smaller airports and plunge air services back into the 1930s. For now, it seems things will get interesting on the 27th.

"They've decided ... not to put radar in," Smith said, the Australian Associated Press reported. "That's just unbelievable. To bring in new airspace without radar is irresponsible. ... It's just totally ridiculous." Since the new airspace rules were introduced last November, the chair of Air Services Australia has resigned, two senior air traffic controllers have quit and last month, the aviation regulator declared some of the reforms unsafe, ABC Online reported on Tuesday. The airspace service then resolved to have the changes wound back. Now Smith is trying to block that decision, by taking his fight to Federal Court.

Smith has said the Australian Transportation Safety Board (ATSB) "kowtows to Qantas," and the U.S. NTSB should be brought in to investigate a recent incident involving a Qantas airliner, according to ABC Online. Smith described the incident as a dangerous near-collision that nearly flew 150 people into a mountain. Qantas said a mistake was made that was quickly corrected, and the airplane was never in danger. "Dick Smith's accusations against Qantas and the ATSB are about Dick Smith throwing his weight around yet again, and in doing so unnecessarily worrying the travelling public," Labor Transport spokesman Martin Ferguson told ABC Online.