Melbourne Area Approach Control Centre c.1988


This pre-commissioning publicity photo shows the 'new' Melbourne Area Approach Control Centre (AACC) c.1988. This AACC replaced an earlier one and was located in a purpose-built Centre immediately to the north of the old one at the western end of Building 4 at Melbourne/Tullamarine airport. It operated from October 1988 until 2000 when the last remaining sectors transitioned into the current TAAATS ATSC.

The radar display equipment in use is the Thompson-CSF ATCARDS, later AUSCATS, system (see below). This fully synthetic display system introduced multi-radar tracking in which tracks from multiple radar sensors were electronically fused and presented on a single display. At this time, radar coverage extended out to about 160NM from Melbourne. The installation of new SSR sensors in the early 1990s extended coverage to 250NM from Melbourne, further extended with additional sensors.

The ATCARDS system also introduced track labelling which enabled a data label comprising aircraft callsign, Mode C level, groundspeed and a notepad field to be electronically attached to a track. This system also introduced the concept of 'jurisdiction' in which responsibility for a particular track is assigned to an operating position. Among other things this enabled handoff from one position to another to be done electronically, saving a considerable amount of voice coordination over the preceding 'Bright Display' system.

The three manned consoles in this photograph comprised the Sector 2 suite. Sector 2 Procedural occupied the console nearest the camera (David Arden is the controller). Sec 2P was responsible for the control of traffic from about 100NM Melbourne to the Vic/NSW border below FL200. Because of poor lower level radar coverage in this area, all control was procedural. This included arrivals into Albury and Wagga procedural Towers. The next, radar, console (occupied by John Baxter) was Sec 2 Radar and controlled the high level trunk-route traffic above Sec 2P. The third console was Sec 2 Arrivals (manned by Peter Smith) and this position controlled Melbourne arrivals from the north-east (Sydney direction).

ATCARDS = Air Traffic Control Autonomous Radar Display System

AUSCATS = AUStralian Computerised Air Traffic System

(Photo: CAHS collection)

Click here to see a later panoramic photo of this AACC in Nov 1993

Click here to see a photo of the previous AACC

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