Controlling the Shoalhaven skies

This article has photo gallery Published on Ms Natalie Staples (author), POIS Kelvin Hockey (photographer)

Location(s): Nowra, New South Wales

Topic(s): HMAS Albatross

 Squadron Leader Teresa Wynter, Flight Commander of 453 Squadron - Nowra Detachment explains the duties of an
Squadron Leader Teresa Wynter, Flight Commander of 453 Squadron - Nowra Detachment explains the duties of an "Approach" Air traffic Controller in the Approach Room located in the HMAS Albatross Airfield Control Building. Leading Seaman Michael Solomon and Able Seaman Sean Payne listen closely to the brief.

The high stakes of Defence air traffic control were explained at the recent HMAS Albatross Air Traffic Control Tower open day.

Number 453 Squadron, which is part of the Royal Australian Air Force Number 44 Wing, operate the Nowra Tower and RADAR Terminal Approach Control providing air traffic control services.

Family and friends, aviation enthusiasts and locals were treated to multiple aircraft displays to illustrate airborne capability, including Navy Squirrel and Bell 429 helicopters, which are operated by Navy’s 723 Squadron for pilot training and light utility tasks.

Tours of the airfield, tower and approach were also conducted, while interested personnel were also could also get involved in a simulated air traffic control scenario, including tactical air traffic control displays and situations.

Able Seaman Avionics Technician Aircraft Sean Payne who attended the open day said it gave him an appreciation for the work that the controllers provided to the Australian Defence Force.

“Air traffic controllers' careers are really interesting and quite diverse. I am seriously considering a career change and seeking further information,” he said.

Mr Jack Heyman who works as a civilian aircraft maintainer said that he was also very impressed.

“I was surprised at the diversity of a Joint Battlefield Airspace Controller's job. I was not aware that some were at 48 hours notice to deploy anywhere the Defence Force or Government deems necessary – that’s pretty amazing,” he said.

Flight Commander for 453 Squadron Nowra Flight, Squadron Leader Teresa Wynter, said that the group of men and women do vital work.

“In the Nowra tower we have military and civilian staff working side by side. We are responsible for the provision of air base air traffic services to support fleet training in Nowra airspace and the Eastern Australian Exercise Area.”

“Using the Australian Defence Air Traffic System, we provide air base air traffic services including separation of aircraft arriving, departing and conducting circuit operations at the airfield,” Squadron Leader Wynter said.

“In any given day we could be controlling the approaches of military aircraft including Navy’s MH60R Seahawk, MRH90 Taipan, AS350BA Squirrel and Bell 429 helicopters."

"A lot of civilian single and twin engine aircraft also operate in the area and need to be accounted for and processed amongst our military duties.”

Acting Commanding Officer Albatross, Commander Sue Cunningham said 453 Squadron provided an essential capability.

“Nowra Tower provides separation within five nautical miles of the airfield for arriving, departing and circuit training aircraft, while Nowra approach provides separation in the surrounding training areas using radar control.”

“Safety is a core defence value and at the heart of what 453 Squadron does on a daily basis,” Commander Cunningham said.