Potential issues with drones and unmanned aerial vehicles, skill degradation during the pandemic, and other high-level issues facing our military were discussed by UNSW Canberra students at a recent event showcasing future capability.

The Aviation Safety Capstone Event gave undergraduate students real industry exposure, by giving them a platform to present to government, defence and academic representatives. 

The Department of Defence, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Seeing Machines, a company that specialises in vehicle accidents and artificial intelligence, were among those that were represented, as well as Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Aviation/Aerospace Australia, RMIT, the University of Melbourne, and academics from UNSW Canberra. 

The assignment was to present and critically analyse a new or existing issue with aviation safety. 

One group used the example of a recently graduated air traffic controller, who due to COVID-19 was unable to commence his necessary training, and therefore lost his qualification. This group analysed the issue and proposed the induction of virtual training where officers can keep their skills current and not fall behind due to other commitments. 

Australian Air Force Training Officer Nick Ritchie said his team’s research enabled them to analyse the current issues with Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) and develop new ideas on how to apply future technologies to this issue.

CFIT is when a controlled flight is unintentionally flown into the ground and most often occur in the approach and landing phase of flight. 

One of the judges, Lieutenant Colonel Duncan Flindle said the event was genuinely engaging and very enjoyable. 

“All the presentations were at a very good standard and a couple were at the level I would be happy to receive from post-graduate and qualified staff in my organisation,” he said.

UNSW Canberra course convenor and Lecturer in Aviation Safety Dr Oleksandra Molloy said one of the greatest benefits of the event is that students can engage with the aviation safety professionals from defence, government, industry and academia, and receive valuable feedback about their projects.

“Apart from this, it is also a great opportunity for the students to apply their knowledge in a university assessment that has direct real-world applications,” Dr Molloy said.

“This also challenges students’ thinking about the emerging issues in aviation safety and its possible solutions that each of the Officers Cadets may be dealing with in the nearest future, after leaving UNSW Canberra.” 

David Orr, Second Secretary at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade joined the event from the Australian Embassy at Dili, Timor-Lester.

“It was a real privilege to be asked along as a judge and to provide feedback and commentary on the projects. I found the issues each of the teams tackled are worthy of research and solutions for addressing them practical and achievable,” he said.

The assessment forms part of second and third year courses Aviation Safety and Advanced Aviation Safety. 

Dr Molloy will be organising more collaborative events in the future and extends the invitation for aviation professionals across government, defence, industry and academia to join our next Aviation Safety Capstone Event.