Wellcamp airport nearing completion just outside Toowoomba is expected to have some air traffic management issues given its close proximity to two other airfields, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) says.
The CASA Office of Airspace Regulation’s preliminary assessment of airspace issues at Brisbane West Wellcamp airport found there were a series of potential air traffic segregation challenges based on current and expected activity in the area.
“CASA’s preliminary analysis indicates there are significant airspace and potential traffic conflict issues to be considered,” the draft report said.
Brisbane West Wellcamp airport, located about 20km southwest of Toowomba and 130km from Brisbane is Australia’s first privately funded public airport.
The other two airports in the area are Toowoomba airport, owned and operated by the Toowoomba local council, and the Army Aviation Centre at Oakey, while there are no fewer than 41 unregistered aircraft landing areas nearby.
The CASA study looked at airspace within 50nm of Wellcamp, from ground level to 8,500ft.
The report said the increase in turboprop aircraft in the area, as well as the potential future introduction of passenger jet and freight aircraft, would “place increased demand on a limited airspace increasing complexities and potential risks”.
“The variety of activity within the airspace presents additional challenges to de-confliction because of the unique operational demands each activity has,” CASA said.
Among the recommendations, CASA said airspace surrounding Wellcamp should remain as class G (or non-controlled) airspace, with CASA closely monitoring traffic and passenger volumes.
CASA would also conduct a review of the Oakey airspace changes and of Wellcamp operations 12 months after the start of operations.
An Airspace Change Proposal (ACP) that was recently completed made “significant changes to airspace around the Oakey airport”, CASA said.
The report said a recent review by Defence concluded that some Restricted Areas (RA) around Oakley that were not used regularly for military aircrew training could be freed up.
“This airspace change will deliver efficiencies for all airspace users in the Toowoomba basin,” CASA said.
“It is also anticipated that this will assist in reducing some of the risk associated with the increased traffic levels from Wellcamp operations.”
The report also said consideration may need to be given to re-positioning the Toowoomba flying training area, a broadcast area may be introduced when Oakey is de-activated, and non-standard circuit procedures (right hand circuits for runway 12) may be implemented at Wellcamp.
Construction and logistics group Wagner Global Services has put up more than $100 million to build the new airport, which has a 2,870 metre runway and will feature an 8,300 square metre terminal and an adjoining 500-hectare business park.
John Wagner, who is chairman of the family-run company, said the airport would be used for freight services – the runway is capable of handling Boeing 747 aircraft – as well as regular passenger services.
With the Toowoomba local government area the second-largest producer of agriculture in Australia, Wagner said he expected fresh flowers, fruits and vegetables and chilled beef, as well as live cattle, sheep and goats, to be exported from the new airport.
“The freighter market is a growing market and we want to take a position there,” Wagner told ABC Radio on May 22.
“We are in discussions with some of the Asian airlines that have been over here to have a look at what we are doing and we will just sort of see how that progresses over the next couple of years.”
Flights were due to start in October.
Wellcamp’s airport operators told CASA they expected a little over 20 aircraft movements a day in 2015, rising steadily to about 50 daily movements by 2019.
Comments on CASA’s preliminary assessment were due by May 31.