An informal survey of Australian pilots has found that pilot distraction is the primary factor in airspace infringements in the country’s airspace.
The survey, conducted by Airservices Australia, questioned pilots involved in airspace infringements. The questionnaire was part of a joint effort by Airservices, the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and the Australian Department of Defence to increase pilot awareness of the risks associated with violating airspace boundaries, especially with increasing numbers of drone pilots entering some sections of airspace.
The report on the survey, published in the May issue of CASA’s FlightSafety Australia magazine, did not specify how many pilots were questioned or when the survey was administered. Most of the respondents were on private flights, and the pilots had an average of 3,052 flight hours, the report said.
In addition to pilot distraction, another frequent cause of airspace infringements was the misreading of charts, the report said, adding that most survey respondents said they flew “only occasionally in the area where they had the infringement, and most respondents were trying to remain outside of controlled airspace.” The report also noted that 71 percent of those surveyed said they used electronic charts, or both electronic and paper charts, with declining percentages still relying on paper charts alone.
Other frequently cited causes of airspace infringements were heavy pilot workload, unexpected instructions from air traffic control and the incorrect use of equipment.
More than 70 percent of respondents said that they used a GPS throughout their flights; of that 70 percent, half used a fixed GPS and the other half used a GPS on a mobile device.