Thursday, October 25, 2012

Recent FOI request to Australian government agencies - Air Services Australia

Hi all,

Introduction:

I am not aware of any researcher who has recently submitted a Freedom of Information request to any Australian government agency, seeking documents related to Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP.) I therefore decided to submit a few requests myself. The first one was to Air Services Australia.

Who is Air Services Australia?

In Australia, up until 1995 responsibility for air safety lay with the federal government Department of Civil Aviation. In July 1995, that department was abolished and replaced with two separate government bodies, namely Air Services Australia and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

According to its website (click here) Air services Australia "Is a government owned corporation providing safe, secure, efficient and environmentally responsible services to the aviation industry." It has responsibility for:

* Airspace management
* Aeronautics information
* Aviation communication
* Radio navigation aides
* Aviation rescue and fire fighting services.

My request:

I sought access, under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, 1982, to "any documents held by Air Services Australia, on the subject of "unidentified flying objects."" I would have preferred the term "Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP.) " However, common usage is for the term UFO and I decided this was the most appropriate terminology for this FOI request.

The response:
The request produced a number of documents, which I will describe below.

1. Media query:

Tim Vollmer, the night Chief of Staff for the "Daily Telegraph" newspaper, emailed the media area of Air Services Australia on 30 may 2012. "As discussed the following image was taken just before 5pm on Monday at Sylvania Waters. They were facing approximately west. The photographer said there were about five witnesses. They stepped out of the boat and the UFOs were still there. He  said they were stationary for about 10-15 minutes before simply disappearing.

The Senior Advisor Communication and media emailed back on 30 may 2012. "Thanks for your email. There were no reports of unusual aircraft activity in the area, however, at just before 5pm on Monday, there were a number of commercial aircraft operating (one flying into Sydney, another through to Newcastle.)

Aircraft movements can also be viewed on our Webtrak system at http://webtrak.bksv.com/syd."

2. IFTT Australia:

There was a series of emails between P. M. Slattery of "Investigators For the Truth", a paranormal UFO Society." The first, dated 30 Mar 2012 asked the Media section "Just wondering if you know of any flights at around 8.05pm coming in from the east into Albury, NSW last night at around a 1000 feet as I got multiple calls about a UFO flying in that area for about 5 minutes last night..."

Air Services Australia responded  "There are two regularly scheduled passenger flights into Albury which arrive from that direction at about that time every night (generally between 8 and 8.30pm. With their landing lights on from around 30nm (55km) from the airport, on a clear night they would be visible for up to 10 mins on approach before landing."

3. IFTT Australia:

Email dated 30 Jul 2012. "I was hoping if there was any radar of unusual activity over the north east of Melbourne over the Hume Highway at approx 11.58pm on the 29th of July 2011..."

Email dated 31 Jul 2011. "On the 29th at 6.30pm was there any airplane flying over east of Point Cook Melbourne and also does any aircraft have 6 red lights flashing at independent times on one side. We have video and any info would..."

On 1 Aug 2011 Air Services of Australia replied " Sorry, having re-read your emails, I realised I confused your two inquiries. Our Webtrak system shows that at 6.30pm on 29 July a Cathay Pacific aircraft flew over the Altona area on approach to Melbourne airport. On 29 July at approximately 11.58pm Webtrak does not show any aircraft movement directly over the Hume Hwy, although aircraft can be seen arriving and departing from the airport."

4. "Manly Daily" newspaper;

A series of emails dated 20 Sep 2011 to 21 Sep 2011 concerning "a photo of alleged UFO." The first email is from Carleen Frost, Cumberland newspapers to Air Services Australia. "The person who took this photo says there were originally two of them but the second one flew behind the cloud. He said they were moving left to right across the sky in an irregular motion. The photo was taken at 6am on Sunday morning at Dee Why."

Air Services Australia responded "Not a UFO, unfortunately. This has been quite a common sight in skies over Sydney in recent weeks due to atmospheric conditions and we have had a  number of similar reports. It is the condensation trail of a high altitude aircraft highlighted by the rising Sun...If you enlarge the photograph and zoom in you can see the aircraft at the head of the condensation trail..."

5. Event from 2004:

This is by far the most interesting of the documents I received and is "Event report 200402393."

"District: Regional Services
Unit: Desert
Time (UTC) 2004 12 07 23:50
Status: Closed

Event description:

At time 2350 at position 190 SE APOMA, QFA790 F380 reports a WX balloon.

At time 2356 position 32 30 06 S 145 26 54 E QFA702 F400 reports unidentified object crossing west to east, reports too large to be WX balloon and speed not consistent with winds. Pilot estimates a speed of the  object to be 150-200kts. Pilot reports a WX radar return and a non-specific visual contact but no TCAS return.

Other aircraft in the vicinity QFA589 F380 and VOZ753 F370 report nothing.

MISCELLANEOUS:

Specific problem: Unidentified object.

AIRCRAFT DETAILS:

Aircraft callsign: NA
Aircraft registration: NA
Aircraft type: NA

Event response:

From verbal notification from Ops Manager.

Executive summary:

Weather balloon/unidentified aircraft report in CBA area.

From replay of audio and Eurocat only.

General information. GRIB winds in area generally 350 degrees average 55kts over vertical cross section. met balloon launched from CBA approximately 2330.

Incident specifics:

QFA790 report of Weather balloon ('a couple of thousand feet below us') was made abeam CBA (aircraft approx  10NM south of CBA, however report did not identify bearing/distance of this balloon) at 2348:40 UTC.

QFA702 reported on frequency shortly after (may or may not have heard the initial report from QFA790.)

At 2352 controller advises QFA589 and VOZ753 of weather balloon report made by QFA790. Subsequently advises QFA402 (intended QFA702) for information that  there may be a weather balloon in the VIMAB area. No immediate response. Controller asks QFA702 to confirm that they copied the message, QFA702 advises copied and contact on (weather?) radar.

At 2356:20 QFA702 reports that the "so called weather balloon" has crossed that aircraft's path but that it does not appear to be a balloon. At this stage QFA702 is approximately 80nm south of ( and tracking towards) CBA - the relative position of these aircraft suggest it is unlikely that this is the same object as reported earlier by QFA790.

QFA702 description and updates regarding contact, position, time and speed of object is consistent with that of VOZ753 (YPAB-YBBN.) As VOZ753 was  at FL370, it is likely that QFA702 TCAS did not display the target (TCAS parameters approx 2700ft?). It appears likely from review of audio and Eurocat that QFA702 acquired VOZ753 on weather radar and subsequently visually tracked this aircraft."

Comments:

Waypoint APOMA is at latitude 29 53 53S and longitude 142 40 54E

TCAS is short for traffic alert and collision avoidance system.

YBBN is Brisbane. I couldn't find an airport with the code YPAB.

Eurocat is a computerised air traffic control and management solution.

Comments are welcomed from Blog readers about any of these documents.

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