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Pilots’ union expresses concerns on proposed Badgerys Creek restrictions

written by Jordan Chong | April 22, 2016

The federal government has officially "declared" Badgerys Creek as the site for a second airport in Sydney. (Jordan Chong)
The federal government “declared” Badgerys Creek as the site for a second airport in Sydney in August 2015. (Jordan Chong)

Sydney would be best served with having the proposed Badgerys Creek airport operate 24 hours without any restrictions, the union representing Qantas pilots says.

On Thursday, Opposition leader Bill Shorten, shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen and transport spokesperson Anthony Albanese proposed a “no-fly zone” over the airport between 2300-0600 to reduce the impact of aircraft noise on surrounding communities.

Under the Labor plan, all aircraft during that seven-hour period would depart in a south-west direction on Runway 23, while arriving flights would approach from the south-west to land on Runway 05 to avoid residential areas.

Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA) treasurer Adam Susz said the Labor proposal would place a heavy restriction on the airport’s operations, noting departing aircraft would have to be well out of the approach path before arriving aircraft could land, resulting in a fairly low movement rate.

“It would not be possible to have simultaneous operations in an opposite direction on a single runway unless those operations were separated by 15 to 20 minutes,” Susz told Australian Aviation in an interview on Friday.


“That is possible with technology and the navigation systems we have and air traffic control and radar providing separation, but it is not ideal.

“From a pilot perspective we don’t want to see a curfew. We’d like to see 24-hour operations that are unrestricted by noise and other political agendas.”

The federal government’s draft airport plan and environmental impact statement for the proposed Western Sydney Airport showed a 3,700m runway on a south-west, north-east orientation.

Arrival flights will be directed to north west of the airport and be between 5,000-7,000 feet when over Penrith and 2,000ft near Bankstown when landing on Runway 23.

The indicative flight paths for departures and arrivals at Runway 23 at the proposed airport at Badgerys Creek. (Federal Government)
The indicative flight paths for departures and arrivals at Runway 23 at the proposed airport at Badgerys Creek. (Federal Government)
The indicative flight paths for departures and arrivals at Runway 05 at the proposed airport at Badgerys Creek. (Federal Government)
Indicative flight paths for departures and arrivals at Runway 05. (Federal Government)

Meanwhile, departing aircraft on Runway 05 would be at about 5,000ft by the time they were over Blacktown and at 10,000ft by the time they were at RAAF Base Richmond if headed north, or at 10,000ft between Camden and Picton if heading south.

The master plan said it was planned for the airport to operate on a curfew free basis.

Susz, who is a Boeing 747 first officer with Qantas, said the restrictions meant aircraft would be unable to land on Runway 05 if winds were too strong.

“When there is a south westerly blowing at 10-15-20 knots it is not possible really to conduct a landing with that sort of tail wind,” Susz said.

“Our perspective would be to maintain as much operational flexibility as possible. We’d like to be able to land in the safest direction with optimal winds.

Susz said noise abatement procedures such as curved approaches, lower thrust settings on engines and advancements in aircraft technology all reduced the noise impact on the surrounding community.

“I think the impact of noise can be minimised by procedures currently available and also the technology is continuously improving with aircraft engine. They are always getting quieter,” Susz said.

“I don’t think the issue is as bad as people are making out.”

While Sydney’s Kingsford Smith Airport did occasionally have “simultaneous” operations, where all aircraft take off and land over Botany Bay, the key difference was Badgerys Creek would begin operations in the mid-2020s with just a 3,700m single runway, compared with two parallel runways at Mascot.

“The margin of safety is greatly improved because the aircraft are using different runways,” Susz said of the simultaneous operations at Mascot.

Federal Transport Minister Darren Chester described the Opposition’s plan as a “hastily cobbled together proposal”.

“It is far from clear that this plan is workable,” Chester said in a statement on Thursday.

“We are now working through around 5000 submissions as we develop a final EIS, including our plan to address these issues.”


  • Barry


    Sounds like another typical Labour Party idea to minimize damage to their electorate. Same party that closed the cross runway at Sydney Airport to look after Labour electorates at each end of the runway in the 1990’s. No big picture planning again…..

  • Richard DC


    What a joke! Only Australia would propose a 2nd airport to facilitate over-capacity at Sydney Kingsford Smith, and then make the 2nd airport also suffer a curfew restriction.

    It’s like they didn’t learn anything from the 1st airport…

  • deano


    Looks like a lot of flight paths at fairly low altitude over a lot of western Sydney

    oh, my bad, it looks like mostly over Mount Druitt, never mind……

  • G4george


    Oh dear, looks like Bill, Albo and Chris were left in the dark about this, wonder how long it will take them to say the dozens of journos present misinterpreted their comments.

  • Dane


    Maybe the government can fly a 727 with no hush kit around the area to demonstrate how much noise they make, then fly a 787 or A350 around the same area and show people how little noise modern aircraft actually produce. I live 20km to the west of Sydney airport under the flight path no matter what the winds are doing and regularly have incoming aircraft flying over the 3000-6000 feet and don’t notice a thing.

  • Jason


    “Meanwhile, departing aircraft on Runway 05 would be at about 5,000ft by the time they were over Bankstown and at 10,000ft by the time they were at RAAF Base Richmond if headed north, or at 10,000ft between Camden and Picton if heading south.”

    Bankstown? Could the writer mean Blacktown perhaps?

    • australianaviation.com.au


      Hi Jason,
      Yes it should be Blacktown. Apologies for the error. the story has been fixed.

  • Dave Thomas


    This Labor Party trio seem to forget their Party’s thirty year old decision for Badgery’s Creek as the second Sydney Airport, that would be a 24 hour operational Strip, has yet again turned into a Labor Party Political stunt to save Bowen’s Bacon.
    Guys, an Airport is an Airport, get over it!!!

  • Freddie


    Once again this issue has been given ‘life’ because of the impending election. Regardless of who says what, will something constructive ever happen after the election has been done and dusted ?

  • Russell M


    Unfortunately Badgery has become an absolute joke.
    I can’t remember the year but still have a clear recollection of the tubby (for want of a better term) transport minister with a shiny shovel turning the first sod for the photo. Since then, governments of BOTH SIDES have stuffed around and delayed this project for the sake of a handfull of votes in marginal seats. Study after study, review after review. Probably spent thfill cost of building the bloody airport already in these reviews and replanning. Absolute disgraceful waste of money over maybe 3 decades. Anyone in either party who talks of being an infrastructure prime minister or supporting major development in Australia is kidding themselves. Just a disgrace.

  • john w.


    We need the tourist dollar in NSW NOW .Shift air force off Richmond out west of NSW make Richmond intrastate, make mascot international and intrastate. Electric train lines already at Richmond for fast travel to city and mascot .Think of the time and money saved and we could have a quick second airport. For the people and pollies around airports, departure and arrival increases will force 24hr ops, get used to it. This system will only happen if politicians get their head out of the sand .I don’t think Baird will introduce it he hasn’t got the balls.

  • Sheikh Monirul Islam


    It is nothing but a vote buying ploy of Labour leaders; cheap excuses.
    You can have all the restriction at Mascot Int’l a/port. Leave Badgery to grow the volume of business by attracting operators through the flexibility- I mean 24 hrs. operations. Don’t kill the possibility by doing politics over it. The environmental impact was calculated and it went through the scrutinize…isn’t that enough for the politicians?

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