As of 1995, the two government agencies responsible for air safety are Airservices Australia (ASA) and the Civil Aviation Safey Authority (CASA). Of the two, ASA describes itself as “…a government owned corporation providing safe, secure, efficient and environmentally responsible services to the aviation industry.” It has responsibility for airspace management and air traffic control, aeronautical information, aviation communication, radio navigation, etc. Indeed, ASA is one of the agencies that pilots can report a UFO event should that sort of extraordinary situation arise.
On the 30th of May, 2012, researcher Keith Basterfield submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to Airservices Australia for:
“any documents held by Air Services Australia, on the subject of “unidentified flying objects.”
On the 18th of June, Keith was furnished with internal ASA material containing a number of media enquiries to ASA, enquiries to ASA from the general public, etc. The only significant material given to him was a 2004 “Event Report” involving a Qantas flight and an “unidentified object”. This material can be viewed on Keith’s blog site here:
This was all ASA, apparently, had on unidentified flying objects.
Unfortunately it seems Keith was misinformed.
In May, 2014 I found out, through a source within Airservices Australia, that any pilot UFO sighting reports would be kept in the “Electronically Submitted Incident Report” (ESIR) database. Furthermore, in September 2014 I consulted the Operations branch of ASA regarding the validity of this information, and was told that the ESIR database would indeed be the final resting place for UFO reports by pilots, and, furthermore, the ESIR database was being superseded by a new system called the Corporate Integrated Reporting and Risk Information System (CIRRIS).
On the 24th of November, 2014 I submitted a formidable FOI request to ASA specifically asking for:
“….any incidences where flight crews have reported any:
1) Unusual, Unknown, or Unidentifiable Aircraft or Objects;
2) Suspected Drones/Unmanned Aerial Vehicles;
3) Meteoric Events, fireballs and the like;
4) Especially unusual weather phenomenon;
which are held on ESIR or CIRRIS database(s).
After receiving an acknowledgment reply on the 25th of November, I waited for what I thought would be the usual “no material responsive to your request can be found” type nonsense. However, on the 10th of December, 2014 I was pleasantly surprised when I received quite the opposite:
“Dear Mr. Dean,
Please find attached an FOI access decision, table of documents and documents being released under the access decision re your request dated 25 November 2014.
Freedom of Information &
Privacy Contact Officer/Legal Inquiries Coordinator
Office of Legal Counsel
Contained with this email were 3 attachments. One was the usual “Access Decision” which all FOI requests end with; one was a “Table of Documents” which is a list of any material being furnished; and the final PDF was the one that contained the smoke and fire… Dryly titled “Documents Being Released Under The Access Decision” this PDF was a full 3 pages, and in tiny font size at that, of tabulated pilot reports of UFO events over Australia. Below is an image of the “Table of Documents” page:
The first thing that jumped out was the fact that some of these reports date back to 2007. So Keith Basterfield’s FOI request to ASA in 2012 failed to secure any of this material. Either ASA had done a very bad job with his very reasonable FOI request, or, someone at ASA simply didn’t want so much material coming out at that time. Infamous American FOI Act user and abuser Robert Todd, who filed approximately seven thousand FOI requests in just a 19 year period once said:
“Either we are dealing with morons at these government FOI and information branches, or, they are not morons and they are deliberately hiding the material I have asked for, and am entitled to, as an American citizen.”
Whatever the truth of the matter, we now have, for those who are interested in real data and real cases – rather than the pathetic “UFO theatre” that goes on in this caper – actual reports from pilots to Airservices Australia. The only problem is, I cannot understand half of it, and I am waiting on advice from people who can. Until then, here are some of the better cases in absolute raw form:
Case ATS‐0126807, which occurred on the 26th of January, 2014, above Adelaide, states:
“At 2315Z TGW484, inbound on the ALEXI 05V STAR reported having traffic at 12 o’clock, 5NM. AAE reported there was no observed traffic in that vicinity. TGW484 then requested a turn onto heading 210. TGW484 then reported the traffic in their right, 3 o’clock 2.5 NM “visual”, and were turning back for the VSA. TGW484 then asked if AAE had the traffic on radar, 3′ o’clock at 4NM. AAE replied they had an A320 past the 3 o’clock at 6.8NM. AAE confirmed whether that was the traffic they had reported, which TGW reported they were not sure, they had had traffic showing 2.5 NM same level. Shortly after JST774 following TGW reported TCAS showing something at BATIP, “hovering” at A020, which then disappeared.”
Case ATS‐0075593, which is listed as occurring on the 10th of April, 2009, in the region of “TOPS”, wherever that is, states:
“ANO332 tracking DN‐KU on descent, reported an airprox with an unknown aircraft approximately opposite direction, at approximately A090. Subsequent questioning of the crew elicited that the aircraft was observed approximately 3‐4 NM east of the flight planned track and followed on TCAS, but there was no RA, nor was the aircraft sighted. Weather conditions were VMC. ANO332 reported unable to raise the aircraft on VHF.ATS surveillance is not available in this part of the airspace so the report was unable to be corroborated by ATC. No flights matching the aircraft were known to the ATS system.
Case ATS‐0105506, which occurred on the 25th of April, 2010 in the Canberra region states:
“Unidentified (upside down pyramid shaped) object drifting close to final rwy 35. First spotted at approximately 400ft AGL on the Western edge of Mt Jerrabomberra. Initially drifted West, towards final for rwy 35, before climbing and drifting to the Northeast. Two aircraft (QFA814 and VOZ259) were diverted through noise abatement areas (Southwest of YSCB) to avoid the object.”
Another one, ATS‐0098025, 26th September, 2012:
“TGW581 reported a red cylindrical object passing the aircraft in the opposite direction when climbing through FL200 approximately 20 nm miles south of Sydney.”
And so they go on. For three pages. All of this is completely raw data: No internal ASA opinions, no emotive statements by the pilots, no conclusions; just the actual tabulated entries on ASA databases, and little else. Even a cursory look at a not insignificant number of these entries tells me that the offending “UFOs” are nothing more than lanterns or model aircraft. But some are not. Right now, I am trying to have these cases – which admittedly come with limited data – put “into English” by the contacts I have to gain a clearer picture of what was actually happening in the skies to cause the pilots to submit such reports, some of which I suspect may have been made quite urgently.
Aside from having this bundle of material analysed by my contacts, I have submitted a further FOI request to Airservices Australia for more details on some of the better looking cases. Specifically, on the 20th of January – just a few days ago – I have asked ASA to provide me with any documents (internal emails, investigation notes, pilot statements, messages, minutes of meetings, etc) which relate to some of these pilot submissions, and I will not be satisfied until the trickle becomes a deluge. Which brings me to another point: It occurred to me, when submitting a bunch of other FOI requests to other agencies last week, I seem to be the only one doing this in Australia. Why so? Why am I doing all the heavy lifting in relation to governmental enquiry and correspondence with those that may hold some keys? If Airservices Australia can furnish me with three pages of pilot UFO reports alone, imagine what the Defence Department’s Directorate of Aviation and Air Force Safety (DDAAFS) databases may hold? What might the Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s (ATSB) Accident and Incident Notifications files tell us? I would encourage other researchers out there to get acquainted, preferably sooner than later, with the current state of possible governmental UFO material, and attempt some correspondence with these agencies. The next “Halt Memo” may be sitting somewhere, and I don’t have to be the one to find it.