Australian Government guidance on the Optus data breach

Guidelines for the granting of dispensations at Adelaide Airport

1. Introduction

Adelaide Airport has a curfew in place under the Adelaide Airport Curfew Act 2000 (the Act) that applies to all aircraft operations between 11.00pm and 6.00am (local time).

The Act provides for the following:

  • a curfew to apply at Adelaide Airport between the hours of 11.00pm and 6.00am (local time), except where the Act otherwise permits;
  • a quota on arrivals by international passenger aircraft during curfew shoulder periods (11pm to midnight and 5am to 6am);
  • restrictions on movements by low noise heavy freight aircraft during curfew periods;
  • nominated jet aircraft with maximum take-off weight of 34,000 kilograms or less, and that comply with (i) ICAO Chapter 3 noise standards and (ii) the “90–95 rule” are permitted to operate during curfew periods;
  • propeller-driven aircraft with maximum take-off weight of 34,000 kilograms or less, and that comply with the maximum noise levels in Chapter 3, 5 (other than 5.1.3), 6 or 10 are permitted to operate during curfew periods; and
  • an aircraft involved in an emergency, or otherwise granted a dispensation by the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities (the Department), is permitted to operate during curfew periods.

1.1 General Principle

In administering these Guidelines a key consideration will be the avoidance of any circumstances which could compromise the safety or security of an aircraft.

1.2 Aircraft involved in an emergency

Section 17 of the Act provides that an aircraft may take off from, or land at, Adelaide Airport during the curfew period if the aircraft is involved in an emergency.

Section 17 states that an aircraft is involved in an emergency if:

  • the aircraft is being used for or in connection with:
    • a search and rescue operation; or
    • a medical emergency; or
    • a natural disaster; or
  • the pilot of the aircraft has declared an in-flight emergency; or
  • the aircraft has insufficient fuel to be diverted to another airport; or
  • there is an urgent need for the aircraft to land or take off:
    • to ensure the safety or security of the aircraft or any person; or
    • to avoid damage to property.

In these circumstances operations may take place without prior approval for granting a dispensation.

1.3 Use of Adelaide Airport as an Alternate Airport

Adelaide Airport may be nominated and used as a planned or unplanned alternate airport during the curfew. For international operations, landings and subsequent take-offs are permitted during the curfew. For domestic operations, only landings are permitted.

Noise abatement procedure requirements as set out in section 3 of these Guidelines apply to such operations. The use of Adelaide Airport as an alternate during the curfew relates to situations where there is an urgent need for an aircraft to land or take off.

2. Dispensations

2.1 Arrivals

A passenger or freight jet aircraft (other than one permitted to land at Adelaide Airport during the curfew) planning to arrive at Adelaide Airport should not depart from its origin port unless the estimated time of arrival will be before 11.00pm local time. Where the estimated time of arrival will be at or after 11.00pm, a dispensation should be sought before departure.

A passenger or freight jet aircraft which had planned to arrive after 6.00am local time, and which subsequently arrives early, must hold until after 6.00am, or divert to an alternate airport, unless the statutory fuel reserves specified in the company operations manual will be reduced and the aircraft would be considered to be in an emergency situation.

2.2 Departures

A passenger or freight jet aircraft (other than one permitted under the Regulations to take off from Adelaide Airport during the curfew) must not depart from Adelaide Airport at or after 11.00pm local time.

Section 14 of the Act provides that an aircraft may take off during a curfew period if it received taxi clearance for the take-off before the start of the curfew period.

2.3 Dispensation circumstances

Section 18 of the Act provides that a dispensation may be granted authorising an aircraft to take-off from, or land at Adelaide Airport, in circumstances that would otherwise contravene the Act if there are circumstances justifying the take-off or landing.

Primary Criteria

For a dispensation to be granted, three primary criteria would need to be satisfied:

  1. The circumstances were immediate in origin, i.e. they originated during, or during preparation for, the take-off of a flight scheduled to fly directly to, or to depart from, Adelaide Airport.
  2. The circumstances involve a delay caused by:
    1. unforeseen mechanical failure of the aircraft in relation to which the dispensation has been requested; or
    2. the offloading of baggage from the aircraft in relation to which the dispensation has been requested, which was required due to passengers failing to board; or
    3. the re-screening (for aviation security purposes) of passengers and/or baggage of the aircraft in relation to which the dispensation has been requested; or
    4. the circumstances are otherwise of such a character that they could not reasonably have been foreseen by the operator.
  3. The operator has demonstrated to the satisfaction of the Minister that it has made every reasonable effort to avoid the need for a dispensation but was unable to make alternative arrangements to the take-off or landing.

General Criteria

Factors that will be taken into account in considering requests for curfew dispensations at Adelaide Airport include:

  • the reason for the cause of the delay and whether the cause of delay is within the control of the operator;
  • by what margin the expected time of movement falls into the curfew period; ie, is it shortly after 11.00pm or shortly before 6.00am;
  • whether the aircraft is able to land on runway 05, or to take off from runway 23, ie, utilise an over water approach or departure;
  • the number of passengers involved; and
  • the severity of the likely hardship.

Further guidance on these factors is provided below:

Expected Time of Curfew Operation

In general terms, applications for dispensation that are able to provide assurance that an aircraft would be able to land, or take off, between 11.00pm and 11.30pm local time will be considered more favourably than an application that could not provide such assurance. Any application for operations after midnight, unless able to demonstrate exceptional circumstances, would expect to be refused.

Operational Conditions at Adelaide Airport

Where Airservices Australia's Air Traffic Services (ATS) advise that the duty runways at Adelaide Airport are Runway 05 for landings and Runway 23 for take-offs, the use of those respective runways should be stipulated in any curfew dispensation granted for a landing or take-off. The use of reverse thrust at idle levels would be required, where safety permits, in any approval for landings on either Runway 05 or 23. Landings on Runway 05 and departures from Runway 23 are designed to minimise aircraft noise impacts on residential areas of Adelaide.

The use of Runway 23 for arrivals should be considered only when Runway 05 is declared by ATS to be not operationally acceptable for arrivals. The use of Runway 05 for take-offs should be considered only when Runway 23 is declared by ATS to be not operationally acceptable for departures.

Full length runway departures are required wherever operationally acceptable.

Nature and Forseeability of Circumstances

Where an aircraft is delayed due to weather or operational reasons (including mechanical problems or need to meet security requirements), the operator would need to establish that it was not possible to have foreseen the situation in sufficient time to make alternative arrangements.

Normally delays due to weather, mechanical or other technical considerations will only be considered where they occur in the immediately preceding sector. Delays due to events (including network problems) earlier in the day would not normally be considered favourably, unless the applicant is able to conclusively demonstrate that it had made every reasonable effort to resolve the problem.

Delays due to requirements to comply with security procedures, or to undertake short-term precautionary safety checks would normally support the granting of a dispensation.

Aircraft Capacity

An application for a dispensation involving an aircraft with a significant passenger load can expect greater consideration than for an aircraft that is almost empty. An application that involves airline management considerations (such as a need to reposition an aircraft or flight crew) should not be considered favourably and dispensation requests will generally be refused.

National Jet Systems BAe146 Maintenance Operations

There will be special consideration for BAe146 aircraft undergoing scheduled maintenance or major defect rectification at National Jet Systems" Adelaide Airport base. For those purposes, BAe146 aircraft may arrive at, or depart from, Adelaide Airport during the curfew, including repositioning flights to meet flight schedule commitments. All BAe146 aircraft for which National Jet Systems has responsibility for scheduled maintenance or defect rectification are covered by these dispensation arrangements.

National Jet Systems will seek a dispensation for each flight at the earliest possible time, and will provide a monthly report to the Department on such activity. That information will be incorporated in the Department's regular report to the Adelaide Airport Consultative Committee on curfew activity.

Passenger Hardship

An operator would be expected to make reasonable efforts to arrange, for example, accommodation for passengers that may be stranded. Where an operator had then not been successful in arranging accommodation for passengers in either Adelaide or other cities, the passenger hardship arising in such cases would be taken into account when considering an application for dispensation.

Reasonable Efforts to be Made

It is the responsibility of the operator to demonstrate that every reasonable effort has been made to avoid the need for a dispensation.

3. Noise Abatement Procedures

During the curfew, aircraft should operate in accordance with the Noise Abatement Procedures set out in the Adelaide Airport section of Airservices Australia's publication “AIP-Departure and Approach Procedures”.

4. Administrative Arrangements

Requests for curfew dispensations at Adelaide Airport should be made to the Department on telephone number 02 6274 6998 or email All calls to this number, also used for Sydney, Coolangatta and Essendon airport curfew dispensation requests, are received by an answering service and immediately diverted to a duty officer of the Department responsible for handling dispensation requests.

The duty officer will contact the person seeking the dispensation, make a decision on the request and advise the aircraft operator of the decision. If appropriate, the duty officer will also advise Airservices Australia's Air Traffic Services at Adelaide Airport of the dispensation request and decision at the earliest practicable time.

The Act does not require that a dispensation be granted in writing, however, a written record of the dispensation request, together with the reasons for refusing or granting it, will be made.