The Albanese Government has released the draft Environmental Impact Statement for Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport for public feedback.
The EIS includes assessments of the noise, social and environmental impacts of the WSI preliminary flight paths and the Australian Government’s proposed actions to address any areas of concern.
This includes the proposed policy for noise treatments to existing properties most impacted by aircraft noise and considerations for any potential acquisition of property.
Members of the public can provide a submission on the draft EIS and the feedback will be considered when finalising the flight path design.
The EIS looks at how the preliminary flight paths will affect First Nations and historic heritage, the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, aircraft noise in the region, biodiversity, health, greenhouse gases, other environmental factors and aircraft hazards.
It also outlines the changes to other aerodromes’ flight paths, including Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport and Bankstown Airport, which are required to safely integrate the WSI control area and flight paths.
The EIS is open for feedback from now until 31 January, 2024.
Have your say and engage with the community sessions, as well as the draft EIS, Noise Tool and supporting information, by visiting wsiflightpaths.gov.au
Australian Flying's opinion on the impact of the proposed changes to Sydney Metropolitan Airports:
With the reduction of the GA training area by more than half, there are going to be some significant changes for GA pilots in Sydney in 2026.
As the diagram below shows, training will be limited to the SW, which will largely impact students and operators at YSBK. The reduction of the training area will concentrate traffic into a smaller space. Flight training operations requiring airspace above 2500 ft, such as stalls, aerobatics and steep turns, look like being the worst affected.
For students training at YSBK, this will result in longer travel times to the most useable part of the training area. This may, in all likelihood, push smaller training schools to move to CN, and may influence larger operations to place part of their fleet at YSCN. Sydney Flight College have announced today that they’re opening a new facility for their new pilot academy in Tamworth. For the Oaks, the impact will be increased traffic overhead and in the training area around the strip.
Arrivals and departures to the west are likely to work very differently because pilots will need to navigate carefully and accurately around the control zone. It seems likely that would involve new clearances for departures to the west and it’s hard to see how they can be avoided inbound either. While no-one is under the illusion that significant changes will not be introduced without educational seminars, literature and new training procedures, there will be an impactful change to arrivals and departures procedures to YSBK. This will require re-edcuation for all pilots in the area.
For IFR pilots, the changes are less impactful. New SIDS and STARs will be designed to be compatible with the airspace. These new procedureshave the potential to cause delays, especially while they are being introduced. Two RNP instrument approaches from the west are proposed, while the two existing NDB approaches are destined for the dustbin.
One possibility canvassed in the report is the development of a training area for students at BK to the north east of Richmond, which would be closer to Bankstown than the area south of Camden (marked in orange on the map). This area borders Richmond to the north east. This proposal, which would require CASA approval and is supported by operators at BK.
The training area loss won’t just be inconvenient: the Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport – Airspace and flight path design draft impact paper, notes the substantial estimated economic loss for BK flight training operators:
“It is anticipated that greater distances will need to be travelled to reach the new flying training areas which means increased ‘transit’ flight durations, extended training schedules and increased costs including increased flying training times and increased fuel and maintenance costs. The estimated cost is $15m in 2026 increasing at a rate of around one per cent per annum in line with increasing aircraft movements”
One would expect the industry will seek compensation for these additional costs.