Professor Jason Harry Falla Middleton

My Expertise

Aviation; meteorology; oceanography; environmental fluid dynamics, airborne remote sensing

Fields of Research (FoR)

Meteorology, Physical Oceanography, Aerodynamics (excl. Hypersonic Aerodynamics), Environmental Science and Management, Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing

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Jason undertook a BSc at Monash University, and completed with First Class Honours in 1971. After spending a short time working as an operations researcher at Dulux in Melbourne he undertook a PhD in the Mathematics Department at Monash, studying buoyant convection and core flows. While doing this he concurrently completed a Commercial Pilot Licence and Instrument Rating and began flying charter to country Victoria. On...view more





Jason undertook a BSc at Monash University, and completed with First Class Honours in 1971. After spending a short time working as an operations researcher at Dulux in Melbourne he undertook a PhD in the Mathematics Department at Monash, studying buoyant convection and core flows. While doing this he concurrently completed a Commercial Pilot Licence and Instrument Rating and began flying charter to country Victoria. On completion of his PhD he took up a postdoctoral position at Scripps Institution of Oceanography (University of California) in 1976 and undertook research expeditions to Antarctica.  He returned to Australia to UNSW in 1980 to teach physical oceanography and began planning and implementing experiments to measure currents and tides in the Great Barrier Reef, and continued his coastal oceanography research until 2009.

In 1993 he initiated plans for a Bachelor of Aviation at UNSW, and this began with both flying and management streams in 1995. Flying operations were undertaken at Bankstown Airport under under the leadership of Greg Clynick and in 1998 the University obtained its own Air Operators Certificate.  Later in 2000 a Masters degree in Aviation Management was established.

During his career he served on many committees, including the Australian Research Council Earth Sciences Panel, the Antarctic Science Advisory Committee, and the Advisory Board of the Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS).

Professor Middleton was appointed to the position of Head, Department of Aviation in 1995, and was responsible for overall management and performance of the School until 2017. The School of Aviation is now the largest of its kind in Australia.

As an Emeritus Professor, he continues to engage in airborne research, and in 2033 recently published again in the Journal of Fluid Mechanics where he first published in 1973.


  • BSc (Hons), PhD (Monash)



Research Goals

Professor Middleton has continued research as an oceanographer and simultaneously developed research in aviation meteorology, seabreezes and now airborne remote sensing.

Research in Detail

Jason Middleton's area of interest is in environmental fluid dynamics, including coastal oceanography and aviation meteorology. In the past Professor Middleton has also undertaken research into sea-breezes, microbursts, wind gusts and iin wake flows arising from natural objects in wind and ocean current streams. In the Aviation context, wakes have been a significant contributory factor in a number of aircraft accidents. He is presently working on projects utilising airborne Lidar to create topographic images of the coastal zone in areas such as Lady Elliot Island and the beaches of NSW. The latter work is being undertaken in conjunction with coastal engineers and environmentalists.


PhD Students in Oceanography and Aviation.

(Students which are annotated (C) were co-supervised by Middleton and had another primary supervisor.

  1. David Griffin (1987)   Circulation in Channels, Lakes and the Coastal Ocean
  2. Scott Power (1989)   Mesoscale Coastal Ocean Dynamics
  3. Madeleine Cahill (1991)  The Coastal Ocean Response to Low-Frequency Wind Forcing
  4. Andrew Forbes (1994)  (C) Acoustic Thermometry of Ocean Climate
  5. Tom Dennis (1994)  Three Studies of Ocean Dynamics
  6. Tony Webb (1995) (C)  Barotropic Coastal Circulation on a Narrow Shelf
  7. Jose Lima (1997)  Ocean Circulation of the Brazilian Shelf Break and Continental Slope.
  8. Mark Gibbs (1998)  Baroclinic Processes in the Sydney Coastal Ocean
  9. Pritha Das (1998) Modelling of Ocean Tides
  10. Peter Coutis (2000) Currents, Coasts and Cays, A Study of Upwelling and Island Wakes
  11. David Ghisolfi (C) (2001) Oceanic Fronts off the Southern Brazilian Coast
  12. Chris Aiken (2002) Stochastic Forcing of Non-Normal Coastal Flows
  13. Moninya Roughan (2002) On the East Australia Current, Upwelling and Separation
  14. Peter Oke (2002) Effects of the East Australia Current on the Nearshore Zone
  15. Peter Tate (2002) The Rise and Dilution of Buoyant Jets and their Behaviour in an Internal Wave Field
  16. Jocelyn Dela-Cruz (C) (2002) Population dynamics and the ecology of the red tide dinoflaggelate, Noctiluca Scintillans.
  17. Ann-Marie Wong (2004)  Convection and Deep Water Formation on the Antarctic Continental Shelf.
  18.  Lihong Kong (C) (2005) Cardiovascular response to stress in trainee pilots.
  19. Alexander Sen Gupta (C) (2006) Ocean and Climate Physics
  20. Boyd Falconer (2006) Human Factors in Australian Defence Force Aviation
  21. Capt Ian Getley (2007) Observations of cosmic ray exposure levels in the higher southern latitudes and validation of predictive computer models. Aircrew and passengers are subject to cosmic rays which have a higher intensity at altitude than at the earth's surface. In the Southern hemisphere in the Australian sector, the proximity of the South Magnetic Pole means that cosmic ray intensity is higher than elsewhere around the world. This project aims to measure cosmic ray intensity during a number of southern hemisphere flights where data is non-existent, and to compare the data with predictive computer programs.
  22. Capt Simon Henderson (2009) Frames in the flight deck: a sociological approach to situation awareness. The aim of this research is to develop an alternative, sociologically based approach, largely drawn from Erving Goffman's (1974) Frame Analysis, and assess whether it can be used to effectively describe, analyse and discuss Situation Awareness (SA). This work establishes that Goffman's (1974) frame analysis theoretically supports the major underlying concepts of the SA construct. SA is shown to be a meaningful and observable social phenomenon. Additionally, a method derived from frame analysis is used to examine and analyse the observed intersubjective SA processes. Lastly, practitioner based notions of SA are shown to be equivalent to that of "frame".
  23. Nikki Olsen (C) (2016) Close Enough is Not Good Enough; Improving the Reliability of Accident and Incident Classification Systems in High Hazard Industries.
  24.  Agus Pramono (2021) Civil Aviation Safety in Indonesia. Analyses of civil aviation accidents in Indonesia show some unusual patterns.  There are a relatively high number of runway excursions by jet aircraft at major airports due to the  high rainfall and poor visibility, but low rates of fatalities. By contrast, visual flight operations in high mountainous areas by small aircraft have high rates of accident due to rapid changes in meteorology. Surveys of pilots and senior aviation managers  have identified some safety related attitudes which are influenced by local custom.
  25. Kevin McMurtrie (C) (2020) Influences on Flight Crew Reporting Behaviour; Trust and Fear of Reprisal.
  26. David Wilson (2023) Assessing Australian Airport Weather Forecasts. Pilots are required to obtain forecasts of weather at destination airports, and to make plans for the provision of extra fuel for reserve or onward flight to an alternate airport, depending on the forecast conditions. Unfortunately the weather which occurs at the destination may differ from that which is forecast, leading on occasion to the loading of extra unnecessary fuel, or to a situation where safety is comprised because insufficient fuel has been loaded. This research comprises a detailed comparison of forecast vs actual weather at major Australian airports and some Island airports, and assesses the changes due to the implementation of the new TAF3 forecast system which was introduced in November 2020.


Supervision Opportunities/Areas


Contact Professor Middleton to find out more about supervision opportunities in his area.

Advice for prospective students

Leadership skills need to encompass a wide range of issues. These include communication, team building within your organisation, visionary strategy at corporate governance level, intelligent and analytical strategic and tactical decision making at operational level, and day-to-day operational efficiency. You should choose an environment that has a focus on combining leading research, world-class facilities, practical teaching and partnerships with major organisations to ensure you are ready to take on global opportunities.



Professor Middleton no longer teaches, but in the past was the coordinator of the postgraduate Course AVIA5020 Research Project, which is offered as a final element of the Master of Aviation Management. In earlier times he has taught a range of courses including aeronautical knowledge, safety, meteorology, coastal oceanography and mathematical methods


Professional affiliations and service positions

Formerly: Head of School of Aviation.

The School of Aviation provides a range of services to support industry, ranging from short-term consultancy to longer-term contract research. The School is also able to provide tailored short-courses either specifically for an individual client's needs, or within the scope of the MSc (Aviation Management) Program. 


Professor Middleton is a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society (FRAeS), and a Fellow of the Royal Society of New South Wales (FRSN).


Professor Middleton was an Advisory Board Member of the Integrated Marine Observing System  (IMOS) from its inception in 2007 to 2014.


My Grants

Professor Middleton has held numerous grants from the Australian Research Council, and has undertaken a number of researrch projects with State Government agencies and  consultant companies as research partners.

My Qualifications

BSc (hons 1) 1971 Monash University

PhD (1976) Monash University

Commercial Pilot licence 107902 (1973)

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School of Aviation
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Lower Campus
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