Teewah airstrip back in 2013.
Teewah airstrip back in 2013.

Battle of the skies brewing over Noosa North Shore

Model aircraft operators have been radioing manned aircraft ordering them to stay away from the airspace above and around the Teewah airstrip, it has been revealed.

Commercial pilots have voiced their concerns, fearing a disaster waiting to happen in the airspace above Teewah airstrip.

Correspondence between commercial operators and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority in March revealed several areas of concern.


It was understood the Authority's instrument in place at the airstrip allowed model aircraft users to fly up to 450m, the same altitude as other commercial manned planes and helicopters.

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Flight Options Pilot Academy chief pilot and head of operations Tim Holland said under the instrument, model flyers were supposed to descend their aircraft, usually model planes or drones, to 120m when manned aircraft were in the area.

Mr Holland said several of his pilots had encountered issues, while others had reported model aircraft pilots radioing orders to manned aircraft pilots, something he said they were prohibited from doing.

Helitec CEO Phil Aldridge with TAFE representatives.
Helitec CEO Phil Aldridge with TAFE representatives.


Helitec flight training organisation owner Phil Aldridge said he understood model pilots were only manning one radio frequency instead of the two in use and they were communicating with commercial pilots without a radio licence.

He said they were supposed to land their model aircraft if low-flying, manned aircraft were around, something that he said was also not happening.

Mr Aldridge said the airstrip was their low-level training area and there were real safety concerns with model aircraft not clearing the airspace.

"We've got no chance of seeing them (at those distances)," Mr Aldridge said.

"It's a solid object being sent up to the flight path."

A representative from Noosa Model Flyers declined to comment, other than to say any issues regarding the airstrip and airspace should be directed to the council or the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

An Authority spokesman said model aircraft users could apply for permission to operate outside the existing rules, but had to have several safety measures in place to do so.

"For example they must have a NOTAM (notice to airmen) in place and monitor radio frequencies," the spokesman said.

Tim Holland of Flight Options.
Tim Holland of Flight Options.


"Also, if operators are flying near a non-controlled aerodrome and they become aware of manned aircraft nearby, they have to manoeuvre away and land their aircraft as quickly and safely as possible and drop below 400 feet (120m) if manned aircraft are on approach or takeoff.

"CASA is not looking at creating any limitations at Teewah Airfield at this stage."

Noosa Council communications manager Ken Furdek said the Authority had asked the council to meet with Teewah airstrip stakeholders.

"We are endeavouring to arrange a discussion as the meeting would be beneficial in ensuring stakeholders are working amicably at the site," he said.

He said while council was the trustee of the land it had no jurisdiction over airspace for landing purposes.

Noosa Council closed the airstrip in 2014 to all helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, but approved Noosa Model Flyers Inc to operate on the site, with the Authority approving their use of the airspace above.

"The current users are responsible for maintaining the site, however recently our Pest Management crew dealt with a significant feral pig issue in the area, amid growing concerns over damage to the airstrip and nearby properties," Mr Furdek said.

No date has been set for the stakeholder meeting.

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