Case study: Port Hedland experiences significant growth
Port Hedland International Airport is a certified aerodrome on the Pilbara coast approximately 1,300km north of Perth. Port Hedland is the link between trains from the iron ore mines of the Pilbara and the bulk carrier ships taking the ore overseas.
The increase in air traffic in Western Australia has been unprecedented in Australia's aviation history. The Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics reports that Western Australia's overall air transport movements, almost quadrupled from 137,000 to 530,000 per year between January 2006 and December 2012. The bureau also reports the almost tripling of air transport movements at Port Hedland from 2,061 to 5,895 per year over that period.
These figures capture only part of the traffic picture at Port Hedland. Air traffic movements total around 18,000 per year, and more than 14,000 air transport movements include both charter and regular public transport operations.
The remoteness of the locality has created some challenges for CASA's Office of Airspace Regulation and Airways and Aerodromes Branch, as well as for Airservices Australia, in terms of conducting aeronautical studies and dealing with the increased aviation activity.
CASA has published several reports as a result of the aeronautical studies.
A supplementary report of the risk at Port Hedland was published by CASA in March 2013. The report incorporated results using fast time simulation and recommended that Airservices Australia should implement an aerodrome flight information service (AFIS) in the short term until further measures could be implemented.
Airservices Australia implemented AFIS in June 2013. AFIS provides pilots with advice and information to help them operate safely and efficiently.
Planning is now underway for the commencement of air traffic control services based at Port Hedland from November 2014.
Figures sourced from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics website.