Flight path fight continues as new runway opens

The Sunshine Coast’s newest runway has been officially handed over to airport operators.

By Abbey Cannan

As the first flight prepares to touch down at the new Sunshine Coast Airport runway, community watchdog group Flight Path Forum have flagged that they will continue their campaign to have the flight paths reviewed.

More than 11 weeks since closing its terminal and farewelling its last passenger jet, the Sunshine Coast’s newest runway has been officially handed over to airport operators.

Sunshine Coast Council Mayor Mark Jamieson said the handover of the new international standard runway was a momentous occasion for the region, but not everyone in the community was as excited about the extra flights.

FPF spokesperson Vivien Griffin said their primary concern had always been the arrival and departure flight paths proposed for the new runway.

“These flight paths will affect residential areas in the northern Sunshine Coast which had no reason to believe that they would be under a flight path,” she said.

“While the runway might be locked in concrete, we want to send a strong message to residents that it is still possible to have the flight paths reviewed and we do not intend to give up.”

Ms Griffin said their key concerns had always been two fold.

“First, we believe there was a massive failure to consult properly with residents, particularly given the impacts from living under a flight path,” she said.

“Due to huge outcry from residents, the Aircraft Noise Ombudsman undertook a wide ranging review of the consultation.

“Their report is now with the board of Air Services Australia and cannot be released until ASA approve its release.

“We have asked when we can expect the report to be released, and have heard nothing from ASA.”

The group demanded that the report be released, as Ms Griffen said communities had a clear right to view the findings of the independent Ombudsman.

“Second, we still have grave safety concerns due to the flight paths flying over a quarry at Yandina Creek,” she said.

“Our forensic analysis of documents obtained under Freedom of Information shows that both Air Services Australia and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) appear to have made decisions based on very limited and inaccurate information.

“While Sunshine Coast Council are downplaying the safety issues now, they were expressing major safety concerns about the very same issue before the Queensland Planning and Environment Court as far back as July 2013.

“We have now provided the Commonwealth Ombudsman with a detailed report on this matter, seeking his investigation as a matter of urgency.

“We will also be alerting commercial passenger airlines to this issue.”

Mayor Jamieson said the new international-standard runway would provide the Sunshine Coast and surrounding regions with their own direct travel and export gateway to the world.

“The international runway is a symbol of confidence in the future of our region and will provide new opportunities by opening direct access to new markets, whilst playing an important role in helping our region and its tourism and aviation industries recover from the crippling economic impacts of COVID19,” he said. 

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