Aviation community celebrates historic landing
CASA and members of the aviation community and local council joined together in March 2015 to ensure that a historic aircraft could embark on a special flight and landing.
On 8 March, Qantas B747-400 VH-OJA landed at Illawarra Regional Airport, New South Wales, having been retired from the Qantas fleet and donated to the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society. The aircraft is to become a feature of the society’s prestigious aviation museum at the airport.
The aircraft was the first B747-400 in the Qantas fleet and has over 25 years in service, carrying almost 4.1 million passengers on 13,833 flights over a distance of 85 million kilometres.
In August 1989, the aircraft completed the longest non-stop flight by a commercial airliner, from London to Sydney, in 20 hours, 9 minutes and 5 seconds.
CASA’s Sydney office was approached in December 2014 with the proposal to land the aircraft at Illawarra Regional Airport.
The project was coordinated by the owners of the airport, Shellharbour City Council. CASA staff from the Airspace and Aerodrome Regulation Division looked at restricting the airspace for the arrival and at narrow runway issues; Operations Division staff conducted the safety assessment for the aircraft operation; and Legal Services staff were involved in the approvals process.
Historic landing images: © Civil Aviation Safety Authority
The local council and Qantas both developed project and risk assessment plans, with Qantas developing a full training profile for the four pilots, involving over 20 hours in a flight simulator preparing for the landing. One of the simulator sessions was observed by two of CASA Sydney Region’s flying operations inspectors.
CASA had to carefully consider the strength and length of the airport’s runway, as it was shorter and narrower than one typically used by a B747 aircraft. The operation was considered to be at an acceptable level of safety once specific measures had been put in place.
Seven CASA staff members, representing flying operations, safety systems, aerodrome inspectors and CASA management, witnessed the historic arrival of Qantas B747-400 VH-OJA, along with thousands of other interested spectators.