Melbourne Area Approach Control Centre - 1993

This panorama shows the Melbourne Area Approach Control Centre one evening in November 1993.

The clutter and crowding evident can be compared with this pre-commissioning photo. It's hard to imagine that in the early years carpet bowls was a favourite passtime on a quiet Sunday morning!

The centre of the room is cluttered with the Flight Data consoles where the paper flight progress strips are prepared. In the upper left are two large tables carrying the Computer Aided Strip Printing System (CASPS) equipment. This was a system invented by Andrew Beadle, a Perth controller, which could automatically print flight progress strips for most 'standard' flight plans.

Around the walls more and more consoles have been squeezed in as sectors are consolidated from other Centres into Melbourne. Out of shot behind the camera to the left were Sector 3 Radar (R) and Procedural (P) (Tasmanian traffic) and the Melbourne (ML) Arrivals consoles. These consoles had been moved in from elsewhere in the room to replace Sector 5, the RAAF sector, which closed following the completion of F/A-18 Hornet production at Avalon and the closing of the Point Cook training and Laverton logistics airfields.

Along the left hand (west) wall is ML Radar Advisory Service (RAS), followed by Approach/Departures Radar, Flow, Approach P ('Inky') and Canberra Approach (concealed behind the greenery).

Along the top wall is Sec 2, Sec 2P and Sec 7 (traffic north-east of ML) and Sec 12 (Sydney Arrivals). Down the right hand wall are Sec 16, Sec 6P, Sec 6 (traffic west of Sydney), Sec 4 (traffic north-west of ML) and the big procedural boards of Sec 1 and, out of shot, Sec 5 (central Australian traffic).

Out of shot to the right behind the camera was a small galley, which was woefully inadequate for coping with the number of people crowded into the Centre by this time.

In the foreground is the desk of the Senior Area Approach Controller (SAAC), Bill Phelan presiding at the terminal used to concentrate and de-concentrate radar consoles.

(Photo: Phil Vabre collection)

Click here to see a photo of the previous AACC

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