Smart Tracking aircraft fly with greater accuracy than those using conventional navigation means. The technology makes air travel safer, cleaner and more dependable. It also has the potential to improve noise outcomes for communities living close to airports.

The roll-out of Smart Tracking technology is a key component of the aviation infrastructure Australia’s major cities need as they continue to grow.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) sponsored trials of Smart Tracking at airports around Australia since 2006.  Smart Tracking was implemented permanently for the first time in Australia in Brisbane  in March 2012, with other airports following since.

What is Smart Tracking?

A growing number of modern aircraft are now fitted with navigation systems that use satellite-assisted guidance. These systems allow aircraft to use GPS information to fly with a high degree of accuracy and with only a small variation in the actual routes flown from one aircraft to another.

The technology is fitted in most new aircraft and can be retrofitted into some older aircraft.  This technology is known in aviation circles as Required Navigation Performance (RNP) – meaning the aircraft can perform in accordance with a strict set of navigation parameters.  Airservices refers to these routes as ‘Smart Tracking’.

In certain circumstance, Smart Tracking flight paths can be designed to curve around obstacles (high terrain or buildings), follow existing noise corridors (highways) or to avoid noise sensitive areas in favour of overflying industrial land or other non-residential areas. This technology has already been successfully implemented at some of the busiest and most geographically challenging airports in the world.

Only suitably equipped aircraft and appropriately trained pilots with approval from CASA are able to fly Smart Tracking procedures. Over the next decade, more airlines will start to fly Smart Tracking procedures as they receive new aircraft, fit older aircraft with the necessary technology, and train their pilots.

In consultation with the community, Airservices will work to permanently establish Smart Tracking at other airports across the country, to ensure the safety, environmental and efficiency benefits of the technology can be realised.

Benefits of Smart Tracking

Smart Tracking offers a number of benefits to the aviation industry and the community as air travel continues to grow.

Why is Smart Tracking necessary?

The aviation industry is experiencing strong growth, with air traffic in the Asia-Pacific region forecast to double within the next decade.

This level of growth means the aviation industry needs to work together to achieve the most efficient and effective use of existing airspace while reducing the impact of aviation on the community and the environment as far as possible.

Airservices is working with the aviation industry to introduce new technology to cater for this growth.

Satellite-assisted navigation has been identified by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the United Nations body that determines the standards under which civil aviation is regulated and administered, as a future technology for the management of airspace.  ICAO has recommended all member States (including Australia) implement Smart Tracking technologies at major airports by 2016. Australia’s aviation regulator, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), supports this proposal.