Reporting of airborne ATC delays

Recent AFAP survey evidence and some isolated ATSB reports indicates air traffic delays in Australia are becoming more frequent, lengthy and severe, yet often go undocumented. Prolonged use of contingency measures like TIBAs raises significant risks and concerns regarding Airservices Australia's ability to cope.

Undocumented delays threaten flight safety, operational efficiency and compliance with flight and duty limits. Yet without being properly reported, they cannot be assessed, mitigated, or prevented. 

We encourage all pilots to report any undocumented airborne ATC delays they encounter, including:

  • Unnotified holding and extended tracking
  • Excessive taxi times/ Departure Delays after engine start
  • Long periods waiting in sequences or holding
  • Frequent TIBA or TRA usage, including military equivalent
  • Additional track miles to avoid TIBA
  • Reduced flow rates
  • Late runway changes
  • Missed approaches due to ATC

Even if delays do not constitute an emergency (e.g., a PAN or MAYDAY), pilots should still report. 

Pilots should state there are implications for safety, compliance and crew fatigue when reporting. Members should report undocumented delays to:

  • The ATSB via the online form Occurrence Notification –Aviation. Reports to the ATSB help provide an independent perspective and build a fuller picture of the situation.  
  • Your company's Safety department or Safety Manager. Reports should be as detailed as possible, including frequency and length of delays, potential contributory factors and any impacts. Copying in helps us monitor trends, raise concerns with management and advocate for solutions. Information provided to AFAP is treated confidentially.

Collectively, pilot reports have the power to motivate change by demonstrating the extent of the problem to decision makers. Reporting is the first step towards ensuring Australia's airspace management responds and copes resiliently with staff shortages and growing demand.

Contact if you need clarification or assistance with reporting undocumented delays. We all have a role to play in helping bring these issues to light and ensuring our skies remain safe.


Protecting Australia's Pilots