Episode 17: Operations in and around Townsville controlled airspace

The city of Townsville still sits right in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef coastline. It serves as the gateway to the popular resort and residential community of Magnetic Island and the indigenous settlement of Palm Island.

Townsville airport accommodates a high volume of RPT air transport and scenic flights charter traffic. It also has major military significance.


RAAF Base Townsville plays an important role in our defence capability. It is also the well-established home to army and air force personnel. This means there's also aircraft involved in regular defence operations, exercises, and training in Australia's north.

Due to prevailing winds, the most commonly used duty runway is RWY01. Expect a large number of civil and military aircraft approaching from the south, using the ILS approach for 01.

There can be some delay in issuing a clearance for fixed-wing and helicopter traffic transiting the zone or inbound to land. This is especially the case if inbound from the west. Make sure you have submitted a flight plan so ATC can process your request as quickly as possible.

Light aircraft commonly use RWY 07 for arrivals, particularly from the west and north. GA departures still tend to use RWY 01 due to its proximity to the GA parking areas.

The RAAF provides air traffic services at Townsville and will always try to meet the requests of civilian aircraft.

If you are unsure of any procedures while operating in and around Townsville, contact ATC and ask for assistance. They will be more than happy to help you.

ATC provides a Flight Information Service during ATC hours under the class C control steps. Outside of 36 nm, Brisbane Centre provides this service.

Military jet

Military restricted airspace

As one of the Australian Defence Force's most active training locations, there is an extensive spread of military restricted airspace around Townsville.

It is vital that you read your NOTAMs before operating in and around Townsville.

During exercise periods, pilots should check all AIP SUPs for any additional restricted airspace.

The earlier you contact delivery the less likelihood of delays because we can organise the traffic flow to accommodate and definitely before the boundary. A flight plan definitely helps because then we don't need to have the system generator code for you which can take a minute or two.

Dana Sawade, Flight Lieutenant RAAF

Restricted areas extend to nearly 100 miles to the west and south.

There is a VFR corridor below R737, from surface to 7,000 ft, for access between restricted areas R751, 750 and R739.

You can keep clear of the restricted airspace by tracking between the railway line along the northern border of the corridor and Hervey Range Developmental Road. Check ERSA for the latest aeronautical information.

When you're transiting the TL zone outside class C airspace within the CLL 2500 ft step you need to check the status of restricted areas.

When these areas are active, make sure you do not infringe that airspace. Don't cut the corner around Thornton Gap and South Pinnacle as you fly east or west past Townsville.

Use the prominent South Pinnacle feature to help with your visual navigation.

Last updated:
Online version available at: https://www.casa.gov.au//resources-and-education/education-and-training/out-n-back/episode-17-operations-and-around-townsville-controlled-airspace
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