Restoring a road less travelled

A critical element in keeping Australia’s airspace safe is a nationwide network of VHF tower facilities. VHF communication systems are the most widely used for maintaining contact between ground and aircraft. These towers typically operate on a “line of sight” basis so maintaining constant operation is critical to ensuring unbroken communication across key sections of an aircraft’s flight path.

Responsibility and management of this network rests with Airservices Australia who provide world-leading tower and approach services to manage the safe, orderly flow of aircraft into and out of Australia’s airspace.

Maintaining safe, reliable access to these towers for ongoing checks, maintenance and upkeep is essential so when recent torrential rains washed away much of the access road to one of these towers CBC was tasked with quickly undertaking the required repairs to enable service crews to access the tower to perform vital checks on the generators and battery systems. Over 1.5 kms of the road was affected by major “washouts”, leaving deep gouges in the road up to six feet deep in some places making the road impassable.

“This particular tower was scheduled for a vital service check in coming weeks, so Airservices needed the road repaired post-haste,” said CBC Facilities Coordinator, Adrian Vedelago.

“Fortunately, CBC has access to a wide network of expert contractors and one of our most experienced road-repair specialists had a team working at Tennant Creek which was “only” a five and a half hour drive away – not a long drive in the outback.”

By drawing on the coverage of its contractor network in this way CBC was able to mobilise to site an experienced work team equipped with a Caterpillar 140H Grader and a Caterpillar D8T Dozer. This was achieved within a week of the initial request from Air Services following which the CBC-managed crew undertook a two-week program of work to finalise repairs to the critical access road.

“As the before and after pictures from the site show the local CBC contractor crew really delivered an amazing result in a very tight timeframe that ensured that the Airservices VHF tower work program was able to be undertaken to schedule, thereby ensuring the safety of aircraft in that remote section of Australia’s airspace,” said Adrian.