The Hon Mark Vaile MP

Deputy Prime Minister
Minister for Transport and Regional Services
Leader of the Nationals

The Australian Coat of Arms

31 August 2007


The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services, Mark Vaile, today announced a six-month trial of an aircraft Very High Frequency (VHF) radio information service at Dubbo and Wagga Wagga airports to be managed by Airservices Australia.

Known as Unicom (Universal Communications Frequency), trained operators at the non-air traffic control towered airports will provide general weather reports, basic air traffic information and details about the services and facilities available at both airports to enhance the safety of regular passenger services into these destinations.

Pilots approaching within an approximate 20 nautical mile radius of the cities will radio for information using Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF) channels.

"The safety of Australia's regional airports continues to be a priority for this Government and, subject to the successful trials at Dubbo and Wagga Wagga, we expect to see substantial improvement from this pilot information service," Mr Vaile said.

"Subject to the trial results, the future plan is to roll out Unicom services at similar regional airports around Australia.

"Australia's regional centres support expanding mining, agricultural and tourism industries and because of this they are servicing an increasing number of air transport operations.

"The number of aircraft and fare paying passengers using regional airports is rapidly increasing, and as a result may require increased services."

Mr Vaile said Airservices had undertaken an extensive assessment of aircraft operations in uncontrolled (Class G) airspace in order to identify any areas for improvement and options to improve safety.

"The Unicom initiative is one result of that work and the concept is seen as the most viable and cost-effective option to improve air/ground communications at regional airports while maintaining or improving their safety and efficiency," Mr Vaile said.

"During the trial period which commences in December, Airservices will fund the costs of establishing and operating the Unicom service and create five new jobs initially."