GOLD Coast Airport is edging closer to becoming an all-weather landing facility, but it's now up to the public to have a say on whether they think it's worth it.
Under the proposal announced by Gold Coast Airport today, the long-awaited instrument landing system (ILS) will keep the tourism strip open for business more often during the peak December and January holiday season when most diversions occur due to bad weather.
The plan will require a longer northerly approach to the airport for landing, according to the Major Development Plan (MDP) prepared by Gold Coast Airport for the new system.
The report has identified Palm Beach, Burleigh Waters, Miami, Mermaid Waters, Mermaid Beach, Bundall and Benowa as the secondary zone to be impacted by the new flight path.
"The region is currently impacted by some aircraft noise, however noise impacts will increase as aircraft will be travelling overhead instead of being some distance to the east over the ocean," says the MDP prepared by Gold Coast Airport for the new system which will be installed by Airservices Australia.
The impact will also be felt in Surfers Paradise, Ashmore, Southport, Parkwood, Arundel and Pacific Pines which are the maximum western and eastern extents to which aircraft may track to intercept the ILS.
Gold Coast Airport chief operating officer David Collins says the proposal is vital to cut aircraft delays and diversions to the Gold Coast during poor weather conditions.
While the Gold Coast handles about 35,000 flights a year, only 50 planes a year on average have been diverted from the airport due to poor weather since October 2010. Records show this mostly has occurred during the peak holiday season in December and January, followed by October and August.
Gold Coast Airport is the fifth busiest international airport in Australia, and it is set to get busier with passenger numbers expected to almost triple to 16.3 million in 2031 and air traffic movements to more than double to 82,660.
However, Gold Coast is the only airport among Australia's top 12 to not have an ILS, which means pilots need a visual confirmation of the runway to land.
"The installation of an LIS will improve an airline's confidence in using the Gold Coast Airport and the future needs of airport users will be appropriately met," says the MDP.
"Weather conditions are responsible for a significant number of aircraft conducting a missed approach and/or diverting to other airports. The resultant diversions cause significant disruptions and economic loss."
It is understood that while the ILS will primarily be used in bad weather, it also may be used during fine weather although at a much lower frequency of about eight times a day compared with 82 times a day in poor weather. The MDP says full use of the ILS will likely amount to 10 days a year.
Implementation of the system is still some time away, with expectations that it could be operational towards the end of 2016 if all goes to plan. The public consultation will take 60 business days from today, after which government approval could take another 50 working days. Another 50 days may be needed for an updated MDP by the airport should any amendments be required.
"This marks the beginning of the public consultation process through which we aim to provide as much detailed information as possible on the ILS and its associated flight path to ensure the community is informed and can provide feedback through the MDP process," says Airservices executive general manager of safety, environment and assurance, Dr Rob Weaver.
Gold Coast Airport and Airservices will hold community information drop-in sessions this month to provide residents with an opportunity to seek further information.
The MDP is open for public consultation until 5pm on July 13. A copy of the full MDP is available at www.goldcoastairport.com.au
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