‘Huge advantage’ - council approves airport plan including runway extension and cross-runway
A cross-runway and additional hangars would be a “huge advantage” for pilots flying in and out of Bunbury Airport, according to one of the flying school’s operations manager.
Bunbury city councillors on Tuesday voted in support of the Bunbury Geographe Airport Master Plan 2020-2040 — compiled by Bunbury City Council staff and contractors over the past 12 months.
The report outlines 31 recommendations for the site moving forward, including extending the existing runway more than 300 metres, establishing a cross-runway, upgrading lighting and increasing the number of hangars.
Bunbury Flying School operations manager Pam Ray said there were several benefits to come from the master plan, in particular the plan for an 800m x 18m cross-runway.
“We have such a strong sea breeze coming through, generally more south-south-westerly which for beginner students is very challenging,” she said. “So to have the cross-runway would be a huge advantage for them.”
Bunbury Mayor Gary Brennan said due to the wind conditions in the coastal city, there were days where all aircraft were grounded for safety reasons.
A cross-runway running north-south would allow the airport to run 365 days a year.
Another major development on the horizon is the extension of the 1205m runway eastward to 1530m, which would involve it crossing South Western Highway.
Requiring a major realignment of the highway and the construction of a new road, Mr Brennan said the project would come in at about $80 million.
He said the proposed Davenport Link would connect the highway to the future Bunbury Outer Ring Road via a bridge over the Preston River.
Mrs Ray said it would open the flying school — which trains about 50 students each year with 14 aircraft — to the possibility of training pilots in bigger planes and bring more flights into Bunbury.
“The extension would allow slightly larger planes to come in,” she said.
“For student training at this stage we’re not going to that size aircraft but possibly in the future as the business grows.”
It will allow other charters to come into the area. I think with Busselton’s extension being commercial, smaller charter companies will want to use Bunbury in preference to Busselton (Airport).
With the population of the Bunbury Geographe region, anticipated to be about 300,000 by 2050, Mr Brennan said the extension would cater to the growing region. However, he emphasised the Bunbury Airport was a “supplement” to the Busselton Margaret River Airport — not in competition — and Bunbury’s niche was flying schools and enthusiasts.
Prior to detailed planning or development works, the report has recommended detailed investigation into an Aboriginal Heritage site near the airport, as well as undertaking environmental surveys for the areas proposed to be cleared.
The airport presently has 70 hangar sites, two helipads, a Royal Flying Doctor Service transfer station and is the base for the RAC Rescue chopper.
Other recommendations in the report include renaming the facility to the Bunbury Geographe Airport, installing a Jet A1 fuel bowser, replacing the weather camera by 2030 and issuing security codes to any emergency services personnel likely to use the RFDS transfer station.
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