Business jet operators have chalked up a win in a long-running campaign to increase the maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) of aircraft operating into and out of Melbourne’s Essendon Fields airport.
In a decision announced by the Federal Government, regulations will be amended to allow for a MTOW increase from 45 to 50 tonnes, overturning a weight restriction in place for 20 years.
This opens Essendon to the Gulfstream 650 and Bombardier Global 7500.
The weight issue was included in submissions on proposed amendments to the Air Navigation (Essendon Fields Airport) Regulations 2001 under consideration by the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities.
The Department has oversight of a wide range of aviation activities including noise and curfews. Submissions closed on August 31.
In opening consultation on the Essendon in 2017, the department acknowledged it is the only key airport in Australia imposing a weight restriction on operating aircraft during non-curfew hours (between 6am and 11pm).
The Australian Business Aviation Association has long been an advocate of lifting the weight limit in light of the fact some of the newer, larger and heavier business jets are much quieter than their lighter-weight predecessors and peers.
Apart from advocating changes at Essendon, the ABAA is also seeking amendments to business jet regulations in Sydney where post-curfew operations are restricted to a 34-tonne limit imposed in 1995.
Essendon Fields welcomed the weight amendment.
“Business aviation thrives in airports like ours that are close to the city and offer world-class hangar and maintenance facilities, without the air traffic congestion experienced at international airports’’ said airport CEO Chris Cowan.
“The Gulfstream G650 is already in Australia and Bombardier Global 7500 will be here next year. Our first G650 is due here for maintenance this month so this development comes just in time.’’
Essendon Fields-based Platinum Business Aviation, owned and operated by former motorcycle world champion Mick Doohan, described the change in regulations as a much needed and necessary update to how corporate jets will operate at the airport.
“Enabling the latest generation of visiting international corporate aircraft to land within 10 minutes from the City of Melbourne will no doubt assist in attracting additional foreign investment into the State of Victoria,” he said.
“In addition to this, current owners of corporate aircraft based at Essendon Fields will now have the option to upgrade their fleet to these ultra-long range efficient aircraft.”
Darren McGoldrick, vice-president of the Execujet Aviation Group, agreed the change will increase flexibility for jet operators.
“The change to the maximum takeoff weight opens up access for not only many of the current long-range business jets but the new types being introduced in the coming years,” he said.