Recent Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) regulation changes for airport certification has led to East Gippsland Shire Council opting out of certification for Mallacoota Airport.
“The heightened CASA standard that airports are now expected to meet has made it impractical for some small regional airports to maintain certification,” General Manager Assets and Environment, Fiona Weigall, said.
Bairnsdale and Orbost airports will remain certified and will operate at a significantly higher compliance level, in line with the new standards and requirements.
Mallacoota Airport will operate at a different regulation standard than a certified airport. This will not change the way the airport is maintained and all aircraft types that currently access the airport can continue to do so.
“Of the three airports Council operates, Mallacoota would require the most significant works to be completed to meet the new standards,” Ms Weigall explained.
“This does not mean Council is closing the airport, nor will pilots or the public see any physical changes to the airport and how it is currently managed and maintained. Council is committed to still providing a functional airport for users, minus Notification to Airmen services and Terminal Instrument Flight Procedures,” Ms Weigall said.
A key change for pilots will be a halt to Notification to Airmen (NOTAM) on functions and loss of Terminal Instrument Flight Procedures (TIFP). For aerodrome serviceability status, pilots are encouraged to call Council’s reporting officers, listed in airport publications, who can accurately advise on the serviceability of the aerodrome, which includes fuel facilities in the absence of no NOTAM service.
Mallacoota Airport is a non-revenue airport. It has an ongoing high-level maintenance regime, no landing or parking fees, and has less than 400 annual movements, averaging three flights per week, with the makeup of movements occurring in the summer bushfire season involving firefighting helicopter operations.
The airport is an important asset to the community for bushfire response and both Air Ambulance Victoria (AAV) and DELWP airbase personnel were consulted earlier in the year prior to the decision by Council being made.
Although AAV indicated disappointment in our position, it said it understood why the decision had been made and requested we continue to oversee the airport as we currently do, which includes maintenance, an inspection regime and reporting officer call-out service.
AAV said it would continue to use the airport but indicated the loss of instrument approach may affect flying in some adverse weather conditions. DELWP airbase personnel advised they were comfortable with Council’s position and it would not affect its operations.