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Civil Air Ensign (Australia)

Last modified: 2011-07-25 by jonathan dixon
Keywords: australia | civil air ensign | stars: southern cross |
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[Australian Civil Air Ensign] image by Clay Moss, 16 Jan 2009

See also


Usage

This flag was based upon the British civil air ensign, and was adopted in 1935. Note that:

  1. The Southern Cross turns some 45 degrees anti-clockwise, and
  2. The stars were originally yellow, but were changed to white in 1948.

Unlike its British and New Zealand counterparts, this flag was kept 'alive' for many years, as the Civil Aviation Authority used this flag as its logo, until the CAA was disbanded a few years ago.
Miles Li, 2 Feb 1999

This is defined in law by the Civil Aviation Act 1988, Section 19, which states the following:

Civil Air Ensign

(1) The design and colours of the Civil Air Ensign of Australia are as specified by notification in the Gazette on 4 March 1948, until another ensign is appointed in its place under section 5 of the Flags Act 1953.

(2) The Civil Air Ensign of Australia may be flown or otherwise displayed:
    (a) by CASA; or
    (aa) by AA; or
    (b) on an Australian aircraft engaged in international air navigation; or
    (c) with the permission of CASA and in accordance with any conditions specified in the permission.
    (3) Except as provided in subsection (2), a person shall not fly or otherwise display the Civil Air Ensign.
Penalty: 5 penalty units.

(4) An offence under subsection (3) is an offence of strict liability.

Note that this legislation has not changed in twenty years, according to my source (1) below.

Sources: (1) Australasian Legal Information Institute, Commonwealth Consolidated Acts, Commonwealth of Australia, Civil Aviation Act 1988, CIVIL AVIATION ACT 1988 - NOTES updated 02 Octobeer 2008
(2) Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, It's An Honour web site, last updated March 2008, as consulted 22 January 2009
(3) The Airways Museum & Civil Aviation Historical Society, Essendon Airport, Melbourne, Victoria, web site undated but as consulted 22 January 2009
Colin Dobson, 22 January 2009

On the Sydney Morning Herald website today [15 Feb], there is an article on talks to give Singapore Airlines access to the Sydney-Los Angeles route. http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2005/02/15/1108230002421.html The accompanying photo shows the Australian and Singapore transport ministers, in front of what looks like the Australian blue ensign, red ensign and civil air ensign. It appears that the civil air ensign is still in use, at least by the transport minister.
Jonathan Dixon, 15 February 2005


Description and Construction

The notification in Gazette No 39, 1948 reads:

THE CIVIL AIR ENSIGN OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

It is notified for general information that the design and colours of the Civil Air Ensign, referred to in Statutory Rules 1947, No. 112--Regulations under the Air Navigation Act 1920-1947--regulation 11 (2), are as follows:--

 (i) The attached diagram of the Civil Air Ensign (Drawing Civil Aviation X-50, Issue No. 2) is an authoritative design in respect of the proportions and positions of the stars &c., shown therein.

 The Civil Air Ensign is of light (Royal Air Force) blue quartered by a dark blue cross edged with white. The Union Flag occupies the upper quarter next the staff, and the seven-pointed Commonwealth star occupied the quarter immediately below. In the “fly”, or half of the flag farther from the staff, is a representation of the constellation of the Southern Cross. All stars are in white.

2. The notification , dated 11th April, 1935, published in Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, No. 30, dated 6th June 1935, is hereby cancelled.

     ARTHUR S. DRAKEFORD
     Minister of State for Civil Aviation
     30th September 1947.

Included in the Gazette is a very detailed construction sheet. Unlike the New Zealand case, the dark blue cross itself is 1/10 the width of the fly, with fimbriations 1/3 of its width, leading to a total width for the cross+fimbriations of 1/6 the width of the fly, rather than 1/5. The Union Jack is constructed following hte usual rules in a 5:11 canton. The Commonwealth Star has an outer diameter 3/5 the width of the Union Jack. (This ratio is the same as in the national flag. However, in the Civil Air Ensign, the Union Flag itself is smaller, and so the diameter is smaller than the 3/10 of the fly specified in the Flags Act for the national flag.)

The stars of the Southern Cross are tilted 45 degrees, so that Alpha and Gamma lie on the line from the lower fly corner to the centre of the top of the flag. They have points pointing in that direction, although to the casual glance, the difference between pointing this way and pointing up is not that significant. Say this line is 'A' and it contains a point 'B', the centre of the southern cross. Then the centre of each star is given as:

  • Alpha: 1/3 of the width of the fly from B along A towards the lower fly.
  • Beta: 1/4 the width of the fly from A towards the bottom of the flag along a line at right angles to A, meeting A 1/16 the width of the fly from B towards the top of the flag.
  • Gamma: 1/3 of the width of the fly from B along A towards the top of the flag.
  • Delta: 2/9 the width of the fly from A towards upper fly along a line at right angles to A meeting A 1/16+1/15 the width of the fly from B towards the top of the flag.
  • Epsilon: 1/10 the width of the fly from A towards upper fly along a line at right angles to A, meeting A 1/24 the width of the fly from B towards the lower fly.

Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta have outer diameters 1/7 the width of the fly and are 7 pointed, Epsilon has outer diamter 1/12 the width of the fly and is five pointed. All stars (including the Commonwealth Star) have inner diameters 4/9 their outer diameter. This means that the Southern Cross is identical to that in the national flag, except for the tilt and the movement of the centre of the cross (B) from the centre of the fly towards the lower fly corner. The exact location of B is not clearly indicated. It looks like it could be the point which makes the centre of Epsilon fall vertically in the centre of the main cross. In any case, the placement is obviously intended to ensure that Epsilon is in the cross and all the others are clear of it.

Jonathan Dixon, 28 January 2009


Variant?

[Civil Air Ensign Variation] image by Marcus Schmöger, 11 Nov 2001

In the flag exhibition at the York International Congress of Vexillology there was an Australian Civil Air Ensign on display (Collection of Bruce Berry). The Southern Cross seemed to be tilted a bit more than 45%, so that the seven-pointed stars point upwards again, thus tilted by 51.4°.
Marcus Schmöger, 11 November 2001


Australian Civil Air Ensign 1935-48

[1935-48 Australian Civil Air Ensign] image by Clay Moss, 16 Jan 2009

The original notification published in Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, No. 30, dated 6th June reads:

CIVIL AIR ENSIGN OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

1. It is notified, for general information, that an Ensign called the “Civil Air Ensign” of the Commonwealth of Australia has been established and is to be recognized as the proper national colours to be flown by the aircraft, and the air transport undertakings, and at the aerodromes referred to below.

2. The Civil Air Ensign is of light (Royal Air Force) blue quartered by a dark blue cross edged with white. The Union Flag occupies the upper quarter next the staff, and the seven-pointed Commonwealth star occupies the quarter immediately below. In the "fly", or half of the flag further from the staff, is a representation of the constellation of the Southern Cross. All stars are in yellow.

3. The attached diagram of the Civil Air Ensign is an authoritative design in respect of the proportions and positions of the stars &c., shown thereon.

4. This distinctive Ensign may be flown--
 (a) by civil aircraft registered in the Commonwealth of Australia;
 (b) by air transport undertakings which own such aircraft on, or in proximity to, buildings used by such undertakings for the purposes of air transport;
 (c) at aerodromes situated in the Commonwealth and in the Territories administered by the Commonwealth which are Government civil aerodromes or aerodromes licensed under the Air Navigation Regulations 1921.

5. The Civil Air Ensign may be so flown as aforesaid subject to any directions, issued from time to time by the authority of the Minister for Defence.

     EARLE PAGE
     Acting Prime Minister.
     11th April, 1935.

The attached diagram is issue No.1 of X-50, and the only difference from the diagram accompanying in the 1948 notification is that is contains the line "All Stars are in Yellow", which, of course, in the later issue is amended to white.
Jonathan Dixon, 28 January 2008