Should Australia get active in space?

THE FEDERAL Government’s review of the 1998 Space Activities Act is open for public submissions until April 30, 2016.

The review looks at Australia’s current space legislation to assess whether it will remain relevant with advancements in space technologies, as well as providing a balance between supporting emerging commercial opportunities and ensuring Australia meets its international obligations for the use of space. 

Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Christopher Pyne said changing space technologies, including those relating to satellites, meant that the Australian space industry had the potential to make great contributions to the economy.

“The government is a strong supporter of industries like space technology that have the potential to transform Australia into a leading innovative nation and position us to seize the next wave of economic prosperity,” Mr Pyne said.

“More than at any other time in history the conditions are right for commercial exploitation of space technology and Australia needs to take advantage of the opportunity.

“Public comment will be one factor in helping us to get the right balance between stimulating innovation and private investment, managing risk and maintaining our global responsibilities for space.”

The comprehensive review process is supported by space law expert, Professor Steven Freeland. A stakeholder forum was held at Parliament House in Canberra on February 24 which invited members of Australia’s space community including industry, research and state and territory government representatives.



Wearable tech. lands key role in aerospace

AUSTRALIAN aerospace company TAE is commercialising CSIRO’s Guardian Mentor Remote (GMR) wearable technology system, making it available to the global aerospace industry.

According to TAE managing director Andrew Sanderson, commercial, regional and defence aircraft operators will be able to reduce aircraft down-time and maintenance costs by using new wearable technologies that can remotely connect technicians with aviation experts from around the world. 

TAE has struck a licensing agreement with CSIRO, which developed the prototype GMR systems.

GMR is hands-free technology that uses a headset and glasses to connect experts with onsite operators so they can provide real-time assistance.

Companies will be able to undertake aircraft and engine repairs and maintenance without having to fly in specialist engineers or mechanics.

Mr Sanderson said TAE saw the technology had huge potential to bring down maintenance costs for airlines, particularly those in regional locations.

“In the aerospace industry, costs associated with aircraft downtime are a critical issue,” Mr Sanderson said.

“If a plane’s not operational, it can cost a company up to $12,000 per hour. Therefore, any technology that makes maintenance easier, and helps bring down repair times is a valuable investment.

“Using the GMR system, it is just like the expert is in the room with you, even if they’re in another state or even another country.

“That means there is no more waiting days to get aircraft back up and running.”

The GMR system consists of a helper station and an operator station, which both use a wearable computer with a helmet-mounted camera and a near-eye display.

The display provides a shared visual space, allowing the off-site expert to demonstrate what needs to be done using a pair of virtual hands.

According to Marcel Bick from CSIRO’s Manufacturing Flagship, technologies like GMR are helping Australian companies create more intelligent industrial environments. 

“Robotic and digital solutions are improving operating safety and efficiency for Australian industry. As we have increased access to high-speed broadband, this makes the possibilities even more exciting,” Dr Bick said. 

“The GMR prototype has already been trialled by Boeing and Aviation Australia. With TAE commercialising the technology, from later this year it will be available to aerospace companies around the world.”

As well as boosting efficiency in the aerospace industry, GMR could also be used for a range of other applications, according to Dr Bick.

“We see huge potential for GMR in a number of settings including the general manufacturing, mining, automotive, paper and pulp and rail industries,” Dr Bick said.

“It could even be used to provide remote medical assistance for field health workers and emergency scenarios.”

TAE started in New Zealand as an engineering and maintenance firm and was this year bought out by its Australia-based management team.



RAAF Base Amberley facilities grow to support new C-27J Ailifters

THE Department of Defence is seeking approval from the Public Works Committee to provide facilities required to maintain and operate 10 new Alenia C-27J Spartan battlefield airlifter aircraft, in a $370 million boost to the local Ipswich economy.

Defence has told the committee that choosing RAAF Base Amberley in Queensland as the main operating base for the aircraft will provide opportunities and efficiencies for the Royal Australian Air Force. 

The project will include constructing training areas, flight simulator, an aircraft parking apron, meteorology observation room, fire station and storage. It will also include road extensions, some demolition work and relocating heritage buildings.

The works are expected to commence in early 2016, and be completed by mid-2018. A Defence spokesman said the estimated cost of the project is $370.4 million (excluding GST).

Committee chair, Senator Dean Smith, said the committee would conduct public and in‑camera hearings for the inquiry in Ipswich, Queensland in November. Submissions to the inquiry close on October 22 this year. 

Full details on the project are available on the committee’s website: www.aph.gov.au/pwc


QUT scopes the world’s airports of the future

IT IS an airport. It is located in the middle of the Brisbane CBD. Yet this airport that is shaping the future of air travel has no runway

The Queensland University of Technology (QUT) campus-based Airport Innovation Research (AIR) Lab and People and Systems (PAS) Lab are where the world’s future airports are being created.

“Our AIR lab runs many of the same systems a functioning airport does, including a check-in counter, security gate and command and control systems – it is just missing the runway," said Professor Prasad Yarlagadda, a smart systems expert who leads QUT’s multi-disciplinary airports R&D team.

“It’s where we're researching, designing and testing a range of innovations to better manage airports and their competing passenger, security and economic concerns.” 

QUT is at the forefront of airport research and development (R&D), spearheading international research to make airport experiences safer and faster.

For more than a decade QUT has been helping Brisbane Airport Corporation and other airports around the country through airport-related research and development.

Prof. Yarlagadda said the university built the AIR Lab to test its research because airports never sleep, which makes it difficult to conduct on-site testing without disrupting an airport’s day-to-day business. The results are proving a game-changer for airports.

Artificial intelligence and image processing specialist, Clinton Fookes, and his colleagues have designed video analytics software that uses CCTV feeds to not just spot people posing a potential security risk but to monitor how quickly passengers move through the airport.

“The video analytics tracks the overall flow and throughput of passengers through an airport – the time it takes for them to go from A to B to C – identifying bottlenecks and other issues that are slowing down arrival and departure processes,” Prof. Fookes said.

“Currently, many staff make resourcing decisions based on their own perception of the airport's status, gut feeling and limited data feeds. These video analytics gives them the real-time data they need to make the best decisions for both passengers and staff.

“Combined with our statistical modelling software, this technology provides an unprecedented level of business intelligence to help the various airport agencies make sure your airport experience runs as smoothly as possible.

“And more importantly, when it isn't running smoothly, this technology helps airport staff to detect that, and to understand why.”

That statistical modelling software, developed by Jegar Pitchforth as part of his PhD, has already been trailed at the Brisbane International Airport alongside with the video analytics which have been running live and in real-time. 

The software takes the massive amount of data traditionally collected by various airport sections and displays it in a way that shows how the work in one area impacts on others.

It allows staff to predict the impact of a particular decision or event, identify the root cause of a particular issue and calculate which factors influence a particular outcome an airport is striving for.

“Essentially our statistical modelling system tells an unfolding story about what's happening at the airport at any given moment in time and – importantly – provides a snapshot of the immediate and near future,” Prof. Fookes said.

“If, for example, an aircraft is going to arrive either early or late, the airport and border agencies can find out what impact that will have on their workload and can better adjust their resources to meet the changes in demand when they need to.”

Prof. Yarlagadda and his multi-disciplinary team of chief investigators including professors Clinton Fookes, Kerrie Mengersen and Sridha Sridharan will continue this research for another three years with funding from Australian Research Council's Linkage Scheme.

They are collaborating with Brisbane Airport Corporation, airport service providers and other QUT academics to take previous research to the next level.

Across the campus from the AIR Lab, QUT design research experts in the PAS Lab are using unique passenger-focused research to change the design and operation of airport security points.

Led by director Vesna Popovic, research recommendations from the PAS Lab team has ensured passengers departing from Brisbane Airport now pass through security screening 80 per cent faster.

“Providing space for passengers before and after screening has allowed passengers to unpack baggage well in advance of screening, and sufficient time to re-pack so as not to crowd the conveyer belt,” Prof. Popovic said.

“Having personnel help passengers in these processes also speeds things up because people typically don’t read signs at this point in their airport journey.

“These simple measures have lowered the airport’s operational costs by 20 percent because there has been an increase in passenger throughput from 260 passengers an hour to 340 an hour.

“PAS Lab researchers are using eye-tracking technology for two separate projects – security screening and intuitive navigation at the airports.

“We’ve also identified the different strategies both experienced and novice screeners use when checking baggage to help the novice staff get up to speed quickly, and have discovered that putting security screeners on a 10-minute rotation maximised their concentration levels.”

Prof. Popovic recently received an Australian Research Council Linkage Scheme grant to investigate automated methods to monitor security operator knowledge and engagement, to assess the real-time security screening context, and to detect unusual passenger behaviour at the screening check-point.

The research team also includes professors Fookes, Yarlagadda, Sridha Sridharan, Thea Blackler and Nara Srinavasan (Edith Cowan University) and Dr Ben Kraal.

“This monitoring will provide new knowledge and techniques to enhance security operator performance, refine the screening process, improve passenger experience and, most critically, ensure safety at our airports,” Prof. Popovic said.

In the most comprehensive study of its kind, QUT researchers are using Tobii eye-tracking glasses to understand exactly what passengers look at and focus on while moving through airport terminals.

PhD industrial design researcher Andrew Cave said the project will help his team simplify the way-finding experience for passengers by making navigating airports more intuitive.

“The less time passengers spend being lost and confused the better their airport experience will be,” Mr Cave said.

“One aspect to this project is ensuring passengers get to their boarding gate on time, because delayed flights due to missing passengers can be costly for airlines, airports and passengers alike.”

QUT experts have created a sophisticated, interactive computer system that allows airport staff to better coordinate responses to emergency situations. They are also developing new biometrics technology that could eliminate long queues, and an interactive ‘multi-touch’ command and control table that will be used to plan and manage emergency scenarios.



About AIR Lab
Championed by Professor Prasad Yarlagadda, and Brisbane Airport Corporation's General Manager (Operations) Stephen Goodwin, AIR Lab was developed with joint funding from research partners The Australian Research Council, QUT, the University of Technology Sydney and the University of Melbourne. Housed in QUT's Science and Engineering Faculty, the AIR Lab was developed to test the outcomes of airport research before those outcomes are deployed to airports, and to help train airport personnel.

About PAS Lab
The PAS Lab, within the Creative Industries Faculty's School of Design, has been championed by Professor Popovic with initial support from QUT and has developed over eight years, achieving a national and international reputation in the following focused areas of research:

  • intuitive interaction
  • experience and expertise
  • context-of-use.

Its mission is to research people's experiences with systems, product, activities and services and apply those findings to their design.


Website helps travellers find pilots

AUSTRALIAN-developed FlyAnywhere – an organisation that helps link travellers with pilots of light aeroplanes and helicopters to reach their destinations – has launched an innovative new website.

The FlyAnywhere business concept allows travellers to connect with pilots directly, in a process that its creators say is the antithesis of modern flight bookings which sell out quickly and where there is little personal interaction. 

“With over 1800 airports in Australia, users of the website now have the ability to maximise their travel experiences with a more personalized approach allowing them to fly out of any of those airports,” FlyAnywhere CEO Robert Brus said.

“By flying in a small plane or helicopter, travellers receive an experience of a lifetime on the way to their big adventure.

“Being cramped in a crowded aircraft with screaming children is often considered the worst part of travelling, but we simplify the travel experience to make the entire trip memorable,” Mr Brus said.

FlyAnywhere uses technology to connect travellers with experienced personnel in the aviation industry.

The easy-to-use system allows consumers to input their travel details to create a customised flight for their next trip. Then, up to five quotes are provided allowing the user to choose the quote that best suits their budget and needs.

FlyAnywhere provides affordable travel solutions for both business and pleasure. Customers benefit from savings as the website eliminates the need for a middleman and quotes are provided directly from the aviation businesses and pilots.

Travellers can book their flights in as little as three steps. First, users fill out the booking form. Next, they create their free account. Last, they will receive up to five quotes from potential pilots and aviation businesses.

Because FlyAnywhere is not a travel agency, consumers are not required to pay additional fees to book the flight, allowing them to save more money for their trip.

“Both the major and minor airlines in Australia offer limited options, schedules and routes for travel,” Mr Brus said. “The objective of creating this business was to allow people to explore any part of Australia and seek adventure while also allowing them an affordable solution for business travel as well.

“FlyAnywhere is about providing people with an opportunity to fly anywhere in Australia and to create a once-in-a-lifetime experience with every flight,” he said.




Aviation industry takes exhaustive action on climate change


NEW YORK – The aviation sector joined other business and government groups at the United Nations Climate Summit in October to announce a commitment on climate action between the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the aviation industry represented by the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG).

This partnership expands on work already being undertaken across the air transport sector to reduce emissions.

In a joint statement, the ICAO and ATAG said: “Air transport connects the world. It is a vital engine of global economic growth supporting over 58 million jobs and $2.4 trillion in gross domestic product.

“In order that all parts of the world are able to benefit from the rapid connectivity advantages of air transport, the sector has committed itself to a pathway of sustainable growth encompassing all areas of the commercial industry and governments working in partnership.”

ICAO is co-ordinating a global market-based measure which will contribute to stabilizing the sector’s net CO2 emissions from 2020. Aviation industry organizations have further committed to reducing net air transport CO2 emissions by 2050 to half of what they were in 2005.

Putting these goals into action, the statement outlines the areas on which the industry and ICAO partner to achieve the ultimate vision of a sustainable international aviation sector: supporting the development of sustainable alternative fuels for aviation; continuing the deployment of new technology aircraft and operational improvements; accelerating the transformation of global air traffic management performance; working with partners to develop a global CO2 standard for new aircraft; working with partners to design and implement a global market-based measure for international aviation; and working together to further efforts for capacity building in member states across the world.

ATAG executive director, Michael Gill said reducing emissions was a strong priority for the industry.

“Today’s announcement builds on the collaborative action taking place across the commercial aviation sector,” Mr Gill said. “It is impressive to see all parts of the industry working with each other, and with partners in research, government and other sectors to deliver the climate actions we have committed to as an industry.

“Aviation is a force for good in the world, supporting economies, fostering tourism and allowing global cultural exchange. We believe that we can continue to deliver these benefits to the world whilst also addressing our climate impacts.”

The agreement was co-signed by Airports Council International, Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation, International Air Transport Association, International Coordinating Council for Aerospace Industries Associations and International Business Aviation Council – representing the various components of the international air transport industry.

ICAO Council president, Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, said, “Governments, working through ICAO, are working with determination and in league with industry to mitigate aviation-related emissions and help humanity meet the wider and very challenging global targets now before us.

“Working cooperatively, our sector is taking proactive and concrete actions which will continue improving air transport fuel efficiency and stabilize the sector’s net carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from 2020, consistent with our historically strong record in this regard while permitting air transport to continue to bring citizens, societies and businesses together, promoting peace and prosperity wherever aircraft fly.”

Currently, aviation operations produce around two percent of human CO2 emissions, a figure set to increase as more people travel by air, particularly in emerging economies. Recognising the need for all industries to undertake long-term climate action, the aviation sector has an ambitious and robust path to lower emissions.





Lovitt Technologies wins $3m order for F-35 components


LOVITT  Technologies Australia won a US$2.95 million contract from Lockheed Martin to manufacture F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter titanium keels in late 2013. 

Lovitt won the order for more than 300 parts, fending off global competition and guaranteeing high technology work at the company’s Montmornecy, Victoria facility over the next three years. 

The titanium longeron keels form part of the linkage between two structural bulkheads in the aft portion of the inner wing assembly and provide structural integrity of the aircraft wings. 

“We are pleased that our offer was selected for this work on the F-35,” said Marcus Ramsay, Lovitt Technologies Australia managing director. 

“Being a key supplier on the most high-profile defence program in the history of the world, gives our company the opportunity to showcase Lovitt Technologies’ capabilities as a provider of high-tech, precision engineering to the aerospace and defence sectors.

“We pride ourselves on having the flexibility and resourcefulness to address our customers’ unique requirements in order to deliver maximum value on the F-35 program.”

Lovitt Technologies Australia is a specialist aerospace and defence manufacturer with the capabilities and operational procedures designed to suit the specification, quality and quantity requirements of the industry. 

The Lovitt machine shop offers high-end precision equipment, including five-axis milling and seven-axis turning capabilities, which have been specifically configured for the exacting requirements of aerospace and defence manufacturing.

The flexibility of Lovitt’s production facilities enables the firm to address the unique volume and scheduling requirements of these programs, Mr Ramsay said.

Australian New Air Combat Capability (NACC)  program partners have the opportunity to supply components for the entire F-35 fleet, not just Australian aircraft.

The program is developing high-tech industry jobs around Australia and helps develop capabilities and the types of technology transfer required to remain competitive in the global aerospace marketplace, a program spokesman said.

So far almost 30 Australian companies have been awarded F-35 contracts at a total value of US$300 million.

Australian industry is expected to gain up to US$5.5 billion in industry opportunities over the life of the F-35 program. Every F-35 built will have some Australian parts and components.


Click here to learn more about how Australia’s New Air Combat Capability (NACC) program supports Australian manufacturers of the F-35.



Contact Us


PO Box 2144