We spoke to Lorraine Ryle, CPA Group’s Aviation Supervisor and airport guru to understand our long-standing operations at Brisbane Airport where we provide a highly specialised service to Brisbane Airport Corporation and contractors.

How long have we been operating at BA

Our very first job at BA was a small fencing job along Hibiscus Street (near Virgin Valet Parking) with Origin Fencing. Our first of many projects at the airport was at the beginning of February in 2014. Our first client was BMD for the Domestic Southern Apron Expansion project.

Since that time, we have worked for a number of clients, approximately 14 over the years including BMD, Origin Fencing, Fulton Hogan, McConnell Dowell, Hansen Yuncken and CV Services Group.

Our current major client is Skyway JV (a BMD / CPB Joint Venture) working on the new parallel runway project.  We are also working with Origin Fencing to replace sections of the airside fencing.

What is our role?

Our initial role was to provide Aviation Security Officers (ASOs) to control access into the airside area (which we still do today).

“Airside” means the security restricted area and we provide access for construction workers and others, checking their ID documentation and logging entry – if persons only have a visitor pass, we provide an ASIC escort. (ASIC is Aviation Security Identification Card which all workers must have).

We also provide vehicle escorts as well as what is called ‘line of sight escort’ duties (guards positioned along the roadways to escort vehicles as they move through the site)’

How many CPA Group staff work there?

We have had as few as one initially, then two, but at our peak we had a workforce of 26, currently we have 13 with 10 on site most week days so not much redundancy right now – in fact we are working on increasing this number.

What qualifications are required?

In addition to security qualifications, you need an ASIC which can take up to 8 weeks to come through as there are ASIO and AFP checks and applicants need to provide details of the past 10 full years of residential addresses  – it is a very thorough vetting process.

If you are driving airside, you need an airside licence (ADA – Authority to Drive Airside) which requires a minimum of 8 hours logged driving by a qualified supervisor and you also need to pass a 40 questions test.

What are the challenges for our staff?

The major challenge is being out in the elements on a 12 or even 13 hour shift (note: strict no smoking policy – offenders removed from site and fined). It can be very hot in summer, very cold in winter, windy, stormy and raining – what is worse is that toilets are not always easily accessed and most times there is little or no shade or shelter.

Professionally, sometimes as the first point of contact we may have an issue if we prevent access on a technical breach, but we are there to enforce the rules, it is highly regulated security zone so there are no compromises.

Lorraine advised she has refused access to a VIP for Brisbane Airport Corporation as he had an expired AUA (Authority to Use Airside) on his vehicle.

What are the challenges for the manager on this service?

As with many Operations, rostering is the major challenge, especially when we receive short notice for shifts. We also find it a challenge when shifts are cancelled, again sometimes with minimal notice.

Managing staff when working conditions are not ideal is also a challenge. The ASO role is not for everyone.

How do you see the future?

The current project will be working until the end of 2019 or early 2020 and we believe there are other projects in the pipeline taking us well into 2020 and beyond.

There is a lot more work still to come at Brisbane Airport and if we keep changing our service and up-skilling our staff to include traffic management and possibly traffic control, as they say – the sky is the limit.