Air Traffic Management STRATEGY, TECHNOLOGY AND MANAGEMENT FOR THE WORLD'S MOST GLOBAL INDUSTRY Sun, 26 Apr 2015 17:51:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Privatisation not the answer: FAA unions Thu, 23 Apr 2015 17:04:01 +0000 More ››]]> Seven different Federal Aviation Administration unions have urged US legislators to block efforts to privatise the agency’s air traffic control functions.

“On behalf of the thousands of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) employees represented by our organisations, we are writing to express our viewpoint regarding recent discussions related to reform of the FAA, specifically the opinions brought forth at the March 24, 2015, House Aviation Subcommittee hearing titled “Options for FAA Air Traffic Control Reform.”

“As representatives of FAA employees, we firmly believe that the most significant issue currently facing the agency is the lack of a stable and secure funding stream.”

The union chiefs said the National Airspace System (NAS), which the FAA employees design, install, operate and maintain, safely flies two million passengers to and from their destinations on 7,000 flights per day, with the commercial aviation industry contributing more than $1.3 trillion to the US economy each year in addition to providing over 10 million jobs.

“It is imperative that such a major aspect of this country’s economy be adequately and consistently funded,” they said.

“There is no debate that sequestration (automatic budget cuts), operating under multiple continuing resolutions and the recent government shutdown resulted in negative impacts that resonated nationwide. These included open watches, increased restoration times, delays in getting needed parts and equipment, modernisation delays, missed or deferred preventative maintenance, reduced redundancy, and agency hiring freezes and furloughs (temporary lay-offs).”

Citing an estimate from Standard & Poor’s, the union chiefs said that the government shutdown which cost the economy $24 billion, including about $3.1 billion in lost government services should not be repeated.

“The FAA is just now recovering from the impacts of the 2013 sequestration,” it said. “However, we do not agree that a massive change to the FAA’s structure is the solution to the funding problem. Instead, we urge lawmakers to develop a plan that addresses the FAA’s need for stable funding free of the threat of sequestration. In addition, we do not believe that the Air Traffic Organization (ATO) should be separated from the other lines of business within the FAA because the ATO is inextricably intertwined with the agency’s other functional divisions.

“For example, communication and sharing of information and resources within the agency, including between the ATO and the Office of Aviation Safety (AVS), is essential to allow the agency to seamlessly perform work necessary to ensure safety every step of the way. The FAA must remain one cohesive unit in order to allow all FAA employees to continue working together for the benefit of the world’s foremost aviation system.

“While we recognize that FAA funding must be addressed and that this may involve some restructuring, we are opposed to privatization of any of the functions or services within the FAA, including the ATO, either through a for-profit or not-for-profit company.

“As representatives of the employees who ensure the safety and efficiency of the world’s largest aviation system, we ask for your support in ensuring that all FAA employees remain employees of the federal government. The work performed by the highly skilled and dedicated employees at the FAA is no doubt a function intimately related to the public interest. We stand ready to participate in future conversations related to FAA reform in order to allow these federal employees to continue doing the work they do every day to keep this country’s aviation system safe.”

Read: FAA ‘at breaking point’: Rinaldi

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Exelis launches drone surveillance airspace tool Thu, 23 Apr 2015 14:16:38 +0000 More ››]]> Exelis has launched its first airspace situational awareness tool designed specifically for unmanned aerial system (UAS) operations in the US.

Symphony RangeVue puts real-time Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) surveillance data, flexible background maps and weather information in the hands of UAS operators and test range personnel. The system provides significant improvements to the safety and efficiency of UAS operations, whether on the test range or in the field.

Symphony RangeVue enables UAS operators and test range personnel to have access to both real-time and historical surveillance information via a Web-hosted platform, helping to manage mission operations from multiple locations with full visibility of assets. Symphony RangeVue can be used as a command center decision-support and post-event analysis tool, or in the field as a sense-and-avoid addition to UAS ground control stations. Flexible geo-fencing tools alert operators when a UAS approaches airspace boundaries or when other aircraft are in the vicinity.

“For the first time, UAS operators and test range personnel will have the same situational awareness currently available to general aviation pilots through traffic information broadcast services. This capability is available without having to install avionics surveillance equipment on the UAS aircraft,” said Ed Sayadian, vice president of Civil and Aerospace Solutions for Exelis. “Leveraging the FAA’s own surveillance data combined with advanced sense-and-avoid alerting capabilities, Symphony RangeVue will significantly increase the safety of UAS operations.”




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China must boost airspace capacity: IATA Thu, 23 Apr 2015 09:50:01 +0000 More ››]]> The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called on China to continue strengthening safety and to optimize its airspace capacity further to reduce flight delays.

“It is clear that China is fully dedicated to supporting its overall development with a strong air transport industry. The efforts of the CAAC to implement the State Safety Plan, upgrade systems, open new routes, develop new airports, reduce delays and much more are greatly appreciated by airlines.”

“By 2034, China will be the world’s largest passenger market, with one in five passengers travelling to, from or within China. Adopting global best practices to improve safety and optimize airspace capacity will support the successful development of Chinese aviation,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and CEO.

Improving Safety

“China has an exemplary safety record. There have been no jet hull losses in Mainland China since August 2010. The combined efforts of the Chinese aviation industry, including government, airlines, airports, air traffic control, and many others have built a first class safety record for China,” said Tyler, speaking at the Beijing International Forum on Civil Aviation Safety..

Tyler also highlighted two opportunities to enhance China’s safety regime with (1) audits for airlines not qualified for IOSA and (2) greater attention to the shipping of lithium batteries:

  • In Greater China, there are 25 airlines on the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) registry. IATA just launched the IATA Standard Safety Assessment (ISSA) which caters to operators that are not eligible for an IOSA audit, either because they operate aircraft below the maximum take-off weight of 5,700 kg, or operate a business model that does not conform to IOSA standards, such as private charters. “I encourage the Chinese industry to take advantage of this opportunity to introduce global standards to those airlines not covered by ISOA,” said Tyler.
  • Tyler also expressed concern on the safe carriage of lithium batteries. “China is a major production center for lithium batteries. Ensuring the safe carriage of this cargo is a major concern for the Chinese air transport industry. Because of the complex supply chains involved, it is crucial that all stakeholders are aligned,” said Tyler. To support the growth of awareness and knowledge-sharing on this issue in China, IATA has released the new Lithium Battery Shipping Guidelines in Chinese. This document is designed to guide shippers and manufacturers step by step through the shipping process.

Optimizing China’s Airspace

Nearly 70,000 flights operate to, from or within Mainland China every week, about 10% of the global total. “China should be congratulated for managing such a large number of flights. It is a major accomplishment, especially given the complex mix of civil and military concerns involved as well as the phenomenal rate of growth. While there is no question that these flights are being handled with safety as a top priority, flight delays are still a major issue for airlines and their passengers,” said Tyler.

Tyler highlighted five priority areas where further improvements in airspace capacity can be pursued.

  • Use existing airspace more efficiently by allowing international flights to use domestic air routes. The ideal situation would be to eliminate distinctions between international and domestic operations, or at least to have all current domestic routes open for international operations.
  • Reduce restrictions on entry/exit points and simplify procedures for re-routing requests. This will allow airlines to make the best use of meteorological conditions, such as wind, to fly more efficiently.
  • Introduce air traffic flow management. This will improve predictability for flights.
  • Maximize the full potential of civil-military cooperation through flexible use of airspace by civil aircraft when it is not being used by the military. More advance notice and alternative routings when military exercises require route closures will also help airlines manage the situation more effectively for their passengers.
  • Maximize the potential to be gained in interoperability from the investments made to introduce performance based navigation (PBN) in China. The potential for PBN to allow for route-restructuring and more direct routes has not yet materialized.

“Much progress has been made to improve the efficiency of China’s air traffic management. I appreciate the tremendous challenge just to keep pace with annual growth of 8% or greater. The impressive achievements to date give us confidence that even more improvements are possible,” said Tyler.

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Hunt for MH370 doubles search area Thu, 23 Apr 2015 09:35:57 +0000 More ››]]> 2The search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 could be extended by an additional 60,000 sq km to bring the search area to 120,000 sq km, in an effort to cover the entire highest probability area identified by expert analysis.

Searching the additional area could also take up to a year to complete, given the adverse weather conditions in the winter months. “Upon completion of the additional 60,000 square kilometres, all high probability search areas will have been covered,” said the Joint Agency Coordination Centre in a MH370 operational update.

The decision to extend the search was taken at a ministerial meeting between Australia, Malaysia and the People’s Republic of China on 16 April in Kuala Lumpur.

It said that based on a careful analysis of all available evidence, search efforts remain focused on an area in the southern Indian Ocean defined by the ATSB’s Search Strategy Working Group which continues its analysis of the satellite communication system messages and aircraft performance.

1“This ongoing effort may result in refinements to the search area along the seventh arc,” it said.

The path of MH370 was recorded by radar for the first hour and forty minutes of its flight.  After that time there were seven instances of satellite communication or ‘handshakes’ between the aircraft and a satellite ground station. In addition, two unanswered satellite phone calls were made to the aircraft.

Analysis of data recorded at the ground station allowed both a determination of the aircraft’s distance from the satellite at the time of each handshake; and a calculation of probable flight paths over a six-hour period.

“The calculation of probable flight paths showed conclusively that the aircraft was travelling in a southerly direction across the Indian Ocean for the last hours of its flight,” it said.

The aircraft’s distance from the satellite at each handshake is shown as an arc. Because there is an inherent level of uncertainty in the calculations, each arc is about thirty kilometres wide. The range of most probable flight paths extends about 1,100 kilometres along the final, seventh arc. This gives the northerly and southerly limits of the search area.

Distance from satellite at handshake“Analysis of the performance of a Boeing 777-200ER shows that the aircraft would have exhausted its fuel by the seventh arc,” it said. “Given the predicted behaviour of the aircraft when its fuel was exhausted, MH370 is unlikely to have travelled more than 30 kilometres west or 50 kilometres east of the seventh arc. This gives the westerly and easterly limits of the search area.”

“Theories suggesting the aircraft is located to the north or significantly to the west of Sumatra are not supported by known facts or careful analysis. It is for this reason the aircraft cannot be in Kazakhstan, Diego Garcia or the Maldives.”

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FAA ‘at breaking point’: Rinaldi Wed, 22 Apr 2015 00:01:06 +0000 More ››]]> A US controller union chief has repeated calls for a change to the way the nation’s aviation system is funded.

“The status quo of unstable, unpredictable funding for the National Airspace System has led to serious problems at the FAA,” National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) president Paul Rinaldi told members of the Aero Club meeting earlier this week. “It cannot finance long-term projects, develop the system for new users or modernize our country’s aging infrastructure. The FAA has also struggled to maintain proper resources and staff at our busiest air traffic control facilities.”

Rinaldi said these problems are a result of short-term funding bills, government shutdowns, partial FAA shutdowns, threatened government-wide and FAA specific shutdowns, sequestration, and 23 authorization extensions. He reminded members of the Aero Club that sequestration is still a threat, with the second round of mandated cuts set for implementation on October 1.

“Projections forecast that the upcoming cuts to the FAA operations budget will be much larger than the $253 million operations budget shortfall we saw in 2013,” he said. “I shudder when I contemplate the choices the FAA will be forced to make this fall.”

In his remarks, Rinaldi said NATCA believes that the upcoming FAA reauthorization bill must provide a predictable, stable funding stream for the National Airspace System. He stressed that NATCA understands addressing the funding problems may lead to the consideration of structural changes for the FAA.

“We have reached a breaking point,” he stated. “Something has to change. We should not have to worry that the lack of regular order in Congress may affect capacity and, even worse, safety. Before we can support any change, we must carefully examine all of the specifics to avoid unintended consequences. Safety will always remain our highest priority.”

In order to offer its support for any change, NATCA will require that any new model be mission driven and ensure stable, predictable funding to adequately support air traffic control services, staffing, hiring and training, long-term modernization projects, preventative maintenance, and ongoing modernization to the physical infrastructure.

Rinaldi said the new model must also ensure a robust, dynamic aviation system with continued growth and services to all segments of the aviation community. It must also be vetted among all stakeholders. NATCA opposes any model that derives profit from air traffic control services.

“The US invented aviation, and we have the world’s safest system,” Rinaldi said, in closing. “There is too much at stake to continue on the current path of unstable, unpredictable funding. It’s time to fix the status quo. I’m ready. Are you?”

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Honeywell launches real-time weather view Tue, 21 Apr 2015 13:41:44 +0000 More ››]]> Honeywell Aerospacehas released version 1 of a new online weather service that will provide pilots with continuously updated, in-flight weather information.

The Weather Information Service, which is delivered through a mobile app and tablet, will alert pilots to potentially hazardous weather along their flight path.

The app gives pilots a comprehensive, up-to-date view of weather along the planned route of flight, which makes it easier to plan for weather-related diversions. Currently, pilots are often referring to outdated printouts or occasional radio dispatches, some hours old, for weather information. The service can save time for pilots, reduce fuel costs for airlines, and increase safety and comfort for passengers.

Honeywell’s Weather Information Service is simple and fast for pilots to use; it was designed by studying their tablet usage, habits and preferences. The app will be regularly updated to provide the latest features to pilots, and the next release will be available in late 2015. The service builds on the success of its current graphical weather product and will also complement the company’s IntuVue 3-D Weather Radar.

“The impact of weather and turbulence on airlines and passengers is very significant. At Honeywell, we want to give pilots the early warning services they need to plan more efficient and safer flight paths around bad weather,” said Michael Edmonds, vice president, Marketing and Product Management, Honeywell Aerospace.

“Traditionally, pilots receive weather information at the start of their day and get updates through radio dispatch, which does not provide real-time information. With the new service, pilots can take advantage of an intuitive display of current weather information to best manage their flight path and get passengers to their destination safely and on time.”

People are accustomed to having information at their fingertips with personal electronic devices, whether they are on the ground or in the air. Honeywell is placing more emphasis on the customer experience and support throughout all phases of a flight by offering services to ensure that anyone involved in flying has easy access to the information they need, when they need it, to enhance efficiency and safety.

Improved Weather Detection

Honeywell’s Weather Information Service will greatly help pilots gain more awareness of their environment by providing up-to-date weather information throughout a flight. Current features include:

  • Weather radar display shows potentially hazardous weather in a graphical format, localized spatially on a map, making it easy for pilots to understand and make critical in-flight routing decisions.
  • Cumulonimbus cloud display allows pilots to get a vertical view of potential storm clouds. This lets them compare weather conditions at different altitudes, making routing safer and more efficient.
  • Clear air turbulence prediction display clearly shows potential areas of greater turbulence, making flights safer and helping to reduce aircraft damage and maintenance.
  • Satellite-derived cloud heights allow a more accurate look at the changing weather so pilots can avoid hazards.
  • 3-D winds aloft show direction and speed of wind in an aircraft’s flight path so pilots can choose the best possible route, helping to reduce fuel use and emissions.
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Moog strikes exclusive licensing QinetiQ deal Tue, 21 Apr 2015 13:19:15 +0000 More ››]]> Moog and QinetiQ have entered into an exclusive licensing agreement for QinetiQ’s Tarsier airport runway foreign object debris (FOD) detection system.

The exclusive agreement will provide Moog’s established customer base access to the latest FOD detection technologies for airport runways and will provide QinetiQ immediate access to Moog’s global sales channel with civil and military customer relationships throughout Europe, Asia-Pacific and the Americas.

The Tarsier FOD detection system quickly scans the runway using a combination of radar and electro-optical sensors. The combination of sensors provides the ability to detect and pinpoint the location of FOD on the runway day and night and in a wide range of adverse weather conditions. The system has been successfully deployed in several high traffic density airports including London’s Heathrow Airport and Canada’s Vancouver International Airport.

“Our mission is to offer customers the best solutions available on the market,” said John Willey, executive general manager of Moog NaSS. “I’m delighted to have the opportunity to add the QinetiQ Tarsier FOD detection system to our portfolio of products and managed services.”

Moog, a business unit within Moog Inc., has been supplying advanced navigation and surveillance systems to civil and military customers since the 1960s. Its product offering includes fixed, naval and mobile TACANs, DMEs and DF systems which are currently operating in more than 100 countries around the globe, providing for safe and efficient air travel. Moog also provides full service maintenance services to its major customers.


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LFV first in the world with remote tower services Tue, 21 Apr 2015 11:09:52 +0000 More ››]]>

CDG9ZbGWgAASksCSweden’s air navigation service provider LFV has become the first in the world to launch remotely operated air traffic management.

In October, LFV secured operational approval for commencing remote tower services from its Remote Tower Centre (RTC) in Sundsvall, serving Örnsköldsvik airport over 150 km away, paving the way for today’s operational launch of 24-hour services.

The October certification milestone meant that all technologies and operational procedures met key industry and regulatory criteria for providing air traffic control services.

The technology has been developed by Saab in close partnership with the Swedish air navigation service provider, LFV to meet air traffic controllers’ operational needs.

The RTC utilizes multiple high-definition displays, various input devices and new air traffic controller tools that provide the same functionality as those already in use at Örnsköldsvik’s tower.

CDGz9ueW8AAr0wJThe Saab product suite includes high definition cameras and pan-tilt-zoom cameras, surveillance and meteorological sensors, microphones, signal light guns and other devices for deployment at the airport.

Data from these sensors are sent to a remote tower centre (RTC) and are displayed in real time, making it possible to retain air traffic services at low traffic airports and even help to improve safety and lower costs.

“Remote Tower Services is a development programme that we are very proud of. We are the first operator in the world to receive operational approval and there is a lot of interest among our customers in Sweden and around the world. RTS is an important product for us and our partners.  It gives us a good position and strong competitiveness,” said Olle Sundin, LFV’s director-general.

“We see a great interest from both small and large airports that have a need for Remote Tower Services in order to address the challenges that they face. This system contributes toward greater efficiency and today marks the start of an exciting development to which Saab has a lot to offer,” added Håkan Buskhe, president and CEO of Saab.


Örnsköldsvik_AirportFortune Favours James Hanson draws on his experience supporting service providers in the procurement and safety assessment of remote towers to consider the challenges and rewards.

Virtual Vanguard Conor Mullan from Think Research examines the various solutions and possible applications for remote tower technology both in Europe and further afield.

Vision On There has been much debate about the concept of remote tower services but the Swedish experience suggests they are ready for the real world.

A video of the first remotely controlled landing at Örnsköldsvik’s airport

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Europe tables SESAR technology rollout blueprint Mon, 20 Apr 2015 13:35:38 +0000 More ››]]> Industry chiefs have unveiled an ambitious strategy to roll out the advanced technologies that will underpin the Single European Sky.

The Single European Sky is one of the European Commission’s main transport initiatives, designed to overhaul Europe’s ageing air traffic control infrastructure to help minimise fuel burn, reduce unnecessary costs and make the most of Europe’s airport capacity.

The Preliminary Deployment Programme that has been released constitutes the SESAR Deployment Manager’s strategic view on the way forward and make that vision a reality.

The body which was selected on 5 December is led by former Italian air traffic control chief Massimo Garbini and is composed of a broad coalition of principal industry stakeholders who will each be expected to play a crucial role in how aircraft travel more effectively across the region.

The Strategic Implementation View

The Strategic Implementation View
* Extended Arrival Management and Performance Based Navigation in high density Terminal Manoeuvring Area
* Airport Integration and Throughput
* Flexible Airspace Management and Free Route
* Network Collaborative Management
* Initial System Wide Information Management
* Initial Trajectory Information Sharing

Since it assumed its role, the Deployment Manager has assessed more than 143 candidate projects that were developed within the public-private SESAR research and development initiative.

This has resulted in five broad areas grouping a total of 110 implementation projects that will be submitted to the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) that finances transformational transport projects within Europe with public money.

The cost of this shortlist of early projects amounts to a huge €836 million worth of investment and would require around €409 million of public funding. The total estimated cost of the development phase of SESAR is €2.1 billion, to be shared equally between the European Community, Eurocontrol and the industry: €350 million, European Commission; €350, Trans-European Transport Network Executive Agency; €700 million, Eurocontrol; €700 million, industry.

The Deployment Manager readily admits that the €409 million charge on the public purse significantly exceeds the earmarked €240 million for the first phase although points out that this ‘overshooting’ delivers ‘an overall positive message about industry’s readiness to implement to deliver’.

The Deployment Manager is however accountable for managing the timely, synchronised and coordinated implementation and so therefore plans to leverage available finance under 2014 -2016 funding mechanisms.

Here, it recommends fast tracking short-term projects that can be accomplished by 2016, such as aircraft arrival management, en route airspace and time-based scheduling of required navigation performance procedures. These smaller foundational projects could be co-funded for €304 million although INEA will decide on the eventual funding level.

One worrying aspect – as the Deployment Manager notes – is a marked lack of projects submitted by Europe’s military together with scant evidence that they were consulted on the impact of proposed civilian airspace projects.

“This could lead to an insufficient buy in … by the military stakeholders  and to a ‘backlog’ concerning  necessary  investments  in  modern  technology  to cope with the deployment of new ATM functionalities and release all benefits,” noted the Deployment Manager, adding that the priority should now be on promotion and further local coordination between the civil stakeholders and the military at national level.

A further concern was expressed over datalink technology which is an essential technology enabler for one of the six principal areas termed Initial Trajectory Information Sharing.

“There is still uncertainty regarding the most appropriate airborne and ground-based technologies to be implemented to enable the functionality. Therefore, regarding the six projects related to [datalink] implementation that have been submitted … there is some probability that the implemented technologies will either not comply with the conclusions of the ongoing validation by the SESAR Joint Undertaking or not provide for the necessary capacity to evolve to then be upgraded in accordance with these conclusions,” said the Deployment Manager.

It adds that the impact of this could be offset by the efforts of SESAR chiefs who could provide early results from their validation studies on datalink technology as well as to  only award projects that will  comply with SESAR’s eventual recommendations.

The plan was delivered to the European Commission on 31 March which is expected to decide whether to approve the strategy in June.

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Gold Coast ILS plan released for public comment Mon, 20 Apr 2015 08:22:00 +0000 More ››]]> Gold Coast Airport has today released for public comment, its preliminary draft major development plan (MDP) proposing the installation of an instrument landing system (ILS) at the airport.

Through the MDP, Gold Coast Airport and Airservices Australia are seeking feedback on the proposal to install an ILS for aircraft landing at the northern end of the main runway (Runway 14).

About two-thirds of flights each year land from this direction due to prevailing winds and use of the proposed ILS is expected to significantly reduce the number of flights that are unable to land at the Gold Coast during poor weather.

An ILS is a highly-accurate radio signal navigation aid which assists pilots to land in low visibility conditions by providing aircraft with vertical and horizontal guidance to the runway.

The proposed ILS will require a new flight path extending north in a straight line from the main runway to approximately Surfers Paradise.

Gold Coast Airport Chief Operating Officer David Collins said the release of the MDP was an important step in getting an ILS installed at the airport to reduce the number of delays and diversions during poor weather each year.

“The MDP is open for public comment for 60 business days, giving the community an opportunity to provide comment on the proposal and we encourage them to do so,” Mr Collins said.

“This marks the beginning of the public consultation process through which we aim to provide as much detailed information as possible on the ILS and its associated flight path to ensure the community is informed and can provide feedback through the MDP process,” Airservices Executive General Manager Safety, Environment and Assurance Dr Rob Weaver said.

Gold Coast Airport and Airservices will hold community information drop-in sessions throughout April to provide residents with an opportunity to seek further information and ask any questions they may have about the potential impacts of the proposed ILS.

The MDP is open for public consultation until 5pm on 13 July 2015. A copy of the full MDP is available at

The community can submit feedback on the MDP in writing to Gold Coast Airport’s Chief Operating Officer using the online form on the airport’s website or by mail to Locked Bag 5, Coolangatta QLD 4225.

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