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Let us land planes more quietly, efficiently: Sydney Airport

Ayesha de KretserSenior reporter

Sydney Airport wants permission to use technology that its soon-to-be-built competitor, Western Sydney International Airport, will have that allows planes to land more quietly and using less fuel.

Federal Transport Minister Catherine King released the draft environment impact statement for WSIA on Tuesday, including small modifications to flight paths at Sydney Airport and Bankstown Airport to accommodate the new airspace.

The country’s biggest airport has asked the government to match the terms it is offering at Western Sydney to reduce emissions and noise. Steven Siewert

But Sydney Airport said the new, government-owned WSIA will be allowed to implement continuous descent approaches that are prohibited at the nation’s busiest airport.

“The release of the WSIA EIS reinforces the need for reform at Sydney Airport,” a spokesman said. “The WSIA flight paths have been designed using technology that delivers better noise and emissions outcomes, while regulations that govern our flight paths remain frozen in time.”

The airline industry is grappling with ways to reduce carbon emissions.


Avalon Airport boss Tony Brun also complained that WSIA is getting generous concessions from the federal government. It will be provided fire brigade and air traffic control services to enable it to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The continuous descent approach allows planes to use GPS technology to gradually glide lower over a longer, more predictable flight path, reducing noise and fuel consumption. In a traditional stepped descent, planes thrust their engines at each step down, generating noise akin to a clutch changing down gears.

“Given that Sydney Airport’s flight paths will change to accommodate WSIA, we should consider further reforms that would allow our local residents to also benefit from the latest technology and make airspace across the entire Sydney basin much more efficient, including implementing the Harris Review,” the spokesman said.

Ms King has indicated the Labor government will legislate changes to Sydney Airport’s so-called demand management scheme recommended as part of the Peter Harris-led review, but she has not yet given a timeline for doing so.

The current legislation is due to sunset by April, leading to calls for urgent action from airports and challenger airlines such as Regional Express and Bonza to overhaul the slot system to enable more competition.

It is understood Sydney Airport has been separately lobbying the federal government to alter its flight paths so that it too can use the technology, but has so far failed to gather traction for change.

Ayesha de Kretser is a senior reporter with The Australian Financial Review covering the aviation and tourism sectors. She has previously reported on banking, mining and commodity markets. Connect with Ayesha on Twitter. Email Ayesha at

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