The proposed plans for the future of Katoomba Airfield

Environment

To restore, protect and
enhance the airfield

IMMEDIATE:

  • Whole of site safety and environmental upgrade.
  • FLYBLUE is committed to delivering net positive environmental homogenous rejuvenation.

ONGOING:

Socially and environmentally responsible Carbon Offset program partnering with Greenfleet: one flight = one tree planted as carbon offset.

FLYBLUE activities do not represent biodiversity or biosecurity threat to the World Heritage National Park.

View Greenfleet’s 2018 Impact Report

Community

Safety and ongoing
enjoyment of the airfield
and surrounding area

SAFETY

  • Emergency Services take precedence at all times
  • Airfield becomes “Ground Zero” at times of emergencies
  • Provides an air “Safety Ramp” for general aviation

Enjoyment

  • Creation and enforcement of new “Fly and Drive Neighbourly” policies
  • Creation and enforcement of new “Conditions of Use” protocols for general aviators utilising the airfield
  • 50% of airfield will be dedicated to non-aviation use: bushwalking, radio club, star gazers club, RAAF cadets bivouacs, etc.
  • Establishment of a stakeholder group facilitating collaboration and input

Economic

Viable, Sustainable
and Balanced

Financial viability, in a sustainable manner, will ensure the airfield’s urgent safety and environmental repairs and upgrades can be made, along with ongoing maintenance and infrastructure enhancements (to the benefit of not just emergency services, but general aviation)

Tourism is an important economic driver for the Blue Mountains with the number of visitors each year now surpassing 4 million, making it one of the top tourist destinations in Australia. FLYBLUE’s scenic heli-charters will help to grow the visitor economy on a sustainable basis by encouraging a hub-and-spoke model acting as a gateway for tourism to the Central West

FLYBLUE will promote the Blue Mountains as being more than just a day visitor destination, but inspiring visitors to stay overnight and experience a heli-charter to: wineries, gardens, lunches etc.. resulting in delivering stronger economic and employment benefits

FLYBLUE’s target customers are by default “high-yield” as the scenic heli-charters on offer will be of not less than 30 minutes, and will not operate in sensitive and populated areas; this will be reflected in the new Katoomba Airfield Fly Neighbourly policy. FLYBLUE’s customer demographic aligns with the Blue Mountains City Council’s adopted “Destination Management Plan”, specifically under the goal and vision for the Blue Mountains to “….. grow the visitor economy in a sustainable manner, focusing on growing visitor yield rather than visitor numbers…”

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FAQs

How old is Katoomba Airfield?

The official public opening was in March 1969 following an exhaustive process which commenced in 1966 and involved a series of NSW State Government departments, Commonwealth of Australia Department of Civil Aviation (CASA) and the Council of The City of Blue Mountains approval processes.

Is Katoomba Airfield currently open?

Katoomba Airfield has been continuously operational following its opening in 1969. However, since February 2016 there has been minimal maintenance of the runways resulting in their need for significant repair and restoration. This has resulted in the airfield being temporarily closed to fixed-wing operations, (except in emergencies).  All helicopter operations, including emergency services and defence force utilisation have continued in a business-as-usual manner.

What is the current status of the proposed Katoomba Airfield ‘Fly Neighbourly’ policy?

A new DRAFT Katoomba Airfield “Fly Neighbourly” policy is being developed at present and will shortly be available for public comment. These will include flight paths, operating hours, general use of the airfield including noise abatement procedures.

A Stakeholder Group will be formed which will further contribute to the final Katoomba Airfield ‘Fly Neighbourly policy.

How will the Katoomba Airfield “Fly Neighbourly” policy be promoted and enforced?

Unlike the current Blue Mountains Fly Neighbourly policy, which has proved less than adequate, FLYBLUE’s new Katoomba Airfield Fly Neighbourly policy will be enforceable through the “Conditions of Use” which each and every pilot will agree and commit to prior to being allowed entry into Katoomba Airfield (YKAT).

The Fly Neighbourly policy will be promoted on www.flyblue.com.au as well as highlighted in ERSA which is the aviation enroute supplement, referenced by all aviators.

Any breach of the Katoomba Airfield Fly Neighbourly policy will result in an immediate withdrawal of the aviator’s permission to utilise Katoomba Airfield in the future.

Residents who believe the Katoomba Airfield Fly Neighbourly policy has been breached are encouraged to report the incident via our website under the FLY NEIGHBOURLY tab REPORTING CONCERNS and fill in the on-line form. FLYBLUE commit to investigate all reports as we take a breach of the Fly Neighbourly policy very seriously.

It is important to emphasize, FLYBLUE is not able to influence aircraft that originate from airfields other than Katoomba Airfield, as they fall under the control of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).

What does Katoomba Airfield “Conditions of Use” mean?

All aviators wishing to use Katoomba Airfield will be directed to the “Conditions of Use”. These are enforceable and represent the only conditions under which aviators may use Katoomba Airfield. The Conditions of Use incorporate all Fly Neighbourly procedures.

Will FLYBLUE be conducting ‘Joy Flights’ over Echo Point, Grose Valley, up the Grand Canyon and around the Three Sisters?

No – FLYBLUE will not be undertaking joy flights over Echo Point, the Three Sisters, Grose Valley, up the Grand Canyon and all residential areas within the Blue Mountains. FLYBLUE’s scenic heli-charter on offer will be a minimum of 30 minutes in length, and will not operate in sensitive and populated areas; this will be reflected in the new Katoomba Airfield Fly Neighbourly policy.

However, as previously noted FLYBLUE has no control over the existing and future level of joy flights available to the general public from locations outside of the Blue Mountains which focus on the Three Sisters and other key World Heritage Areas.

Is it true that FLYBLUE will mainly use the airfield to fly guests between the airfield and the Larsen’s winery at Hartley, as reported by Megalong Valley Landowners Association?

No – the Larsen’s are not aware of any winery in Hartley, nor do they have a financial interest in any winery whatsoever.

Will Katoomba Airfield be returned to the Blue Mountains National Park?

After the untimely death of Katoomba Airfield’s previous lessee in February 2016, and prior to Crown Lands conducting a public EOI in September 2017, in reference to this very point Crown Lands has stated ….. in reference to preferences for future management of the land expressed by Blue Mountains City Council and the National Parks and Wildlife Service between 1999 and 2008. I wish to advise that, in consulting both agencies prior to the 2017 EOI campaign, the Department drew attention to the historically expressed view that Katoomba Airfield should be reinstated within Blue Mountains National Park. Neither agency expressed its opposition to the planned EOI campaign. Nor has either raised any objection to the outcome.”

Is it true that Mutawintji National Park, Sturt National Park and Kosciuszko National Park have airfields maintained by National Parks for emergency use only?

No – this is a complete misrepresentation of the truth by the Blue Mountains Conservation Society Inc. A single phone call to National Park Offices will confirm this. It is neither their mandate nor is it cost effective for National Parks to maintain airfields fit for emergencies. Furthermore, in times of emergencies Kosciuszko National Park uses either Jindabyne, Adaminaby or Cabramurra airfields, Sturt National Park uses Tibooburra airfield and Mutawintji National Park has no available airstrip.

Is it true that Katoomba Airfield will have a carbon offset program?

YES – FLYBLUE are partnering with Greenfleet, Australia’s most respected source of biodiverse carbon offsets. Greenfleet connects people and organisations with real climate action by utilising offset donations to plant trees and restore forests www.greenfleet.com.au

FLYBLUE has committed to donate one native tree for every flight into and out of Katoomba Airfield. This will contribute to offsetting the carbon emissions associated with each flight and will directly support native reforestation projects across Australia.

What will the environmental impacts be to the Blue Mountains Hanging Swamps which may be home to the endangered species: Giant Dragonfly and Blue Mountains Water Skink?

Katoomba Airfield will be securely fenced into two distinct zones: aviation zone and non-aviation zone. The closing of runway 10/28 (eastern portion) with a large proportion dedicated to homogenous regeneration, along with the immediate environmental remediation works stopping further site erosion, both of the Hanging Swaps present on the airfield will be protected into the future.

Will FLYBLUE activities be damaging to the environment and native fauna?

No – in fact the activities proposed are a ‘light footprint’ and represent far less of a biodiversity and biosecurity threat to the World Heritage National Park than many other current activities such as bushwalking, camping, bike riding, horse riding and/or 4WD.

Furthermore, there is no material evidence to suggest that flights over the World Heritage National Park have any impact on the native flora and fauna.

What impact will flights have on birdlife within the World Heritage National Park?

There is no existing evidence of studies undertaken to-date that would confirm that aviation has any impact on the migratory/breeding patterns, wellbeing, or otherwise of native birdlife. The most recent Australian Transport Safety Bureau evidence of incidents relating to bird strikes with aircraft can be found at: http://www.atsb.gov.au/newsroom/news-items/2019/latest-birdstrike-stats-released/ Furthermore, there is no record of any incident occurring in the Blue Mountains between 2006 and 2015.

Is it true that once FLYBLUE is commercially operational you plan to on-sell the lease to a large corporate organisation (such as a Macquarie Group)?

No – this is a complete fabrication and is baseless and is designed to cause fear and concerns amongst the community.

What about bushfires and emergencies – what happens to Katoomba Airfield then?

In the event of any form of emergency the Emergency Services take priority at all times and all other activities will cease for as long as necessary. Historically during bushfires, Katoomba Airfield becomes ‘ground zero’.

FLYBLUE sees this as a priority and is committed to substantially improving the airfield facilities and infrastructure for the utilisation of Emergency Services in times of need. The safety of the community and the protection of the environment are paramount for FLYBLUE.

Why is it so important to ensure that Katoomba Airfield remains open and operational for all aircraft into the future?

It is the only aircraft landing site available between Greater Sydney and Bathurst, and is an important safety asset and way-point for the thousands of light aircraft that traverse the World Heritage National Park and the Blue Mountains each and every year. In other words, it is an “airborne safety ramp” of significant importance.

What will be the new FLIGHT PATHS?

FLYBLUE assures the community that the flight paths in and out of Katoomba Airfield, for both fixed-wing and helicopters, will NOT be over residential and built up areas. FLYBLUE is currently working with the authorities to finalize these.

Will there be ab initio (beginner) flight training, including circuit training at Katoomba Airfield.

No – whilst beginner training activity has been conducted at Katoomba Airfield in the past, this will not be part of operations going forward.

Fly neighbourly policy

Content coming soon.