Whyalla Airport

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Whyalla Airport
IATA: WYAICAO: YWHA
Summary
Airport type Public
Operator Corporation of the City of Whyalla
Serves Whyalla
Elevation AMSL 41 ft / 12 m
Coordinates 33°03′32″S 137°30′52″E / 33.05889°S 137.51444°E / -33.05889; 137.51444Coordinates: 33°03′32″S 137°30′52″E / 33.05889°S 137.51444°E / -33.05889; 137.51444
Map
YWHA is located in South Australia
YWHA
YWHA
Location in South Australia
Runways
Direction Length Surface
m ft
05/23 1,408 4,619 Gravel
17/35 1,686 5,531 Concrete
Statistics (2010/11[1])
Passengers 66,539
Aircraft movements 2,845
Sources: Australian AIP and aerodrome chart,[2] passenger and aircraft movements from the BITRE[3]

Whyalla Airport (IATA: WYAICAO: YWHA) is an airport located 4 nautical miles (7.4 km; 4.6 mi) southwest[2] of Whyalla, South Australia.

Background[edit]

The council of the City of Whyalla has operated the airport since 1991 when it was handed over to the council by the Federal Labor Party who were in power at the time. Unfortunately for Whyalla, the main runway's Pavement Classification Number (PCN) has deteriorated from 13[when?] to the current PCN of 8.[2] This has put a stop to all heavy aircraft, such as the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320, using the airport.[when?] Although such aircraft never operated on a RPT (Regular Passenger Transport) basis, they were a fairly common sight at Whyalla Airport due to charters.[when?]

The airport remained open for use by the Department of Defence C-130 Hercules transport aircraft until the late 1990s. The City of Whyalla, aware of the accelerating damage caused by C-130 operations, asked the Federal Government for financial assistance in upgrading the main runway to accommodate unrestricted C-130 operations. The idea was for the airport to accommodate medium sized commercial jets as well as the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) aircraft. The government declined to offer the City of Whyalla financial assistance to upgrade the main runway. John Smith (then the Mayor of Whyalla) immediately[when?] put a stop to all C-130 operations in Whyalla, causing the RAAF to use either RAAF Woomera Airfield or RAAF Base Edinburgh to fly in troops and supplies for the nearby Cultana Army Training Range. This restriction is still in place today.

As of 2008, the main runway remains substandard for anything other than Saab 340 use or lower. This is significant, because the airport is still listed by Qantas and Virgin Australia as the alternate for Adelaide Airport should that airport become inoperable for whatever reason. In 2004, Qantas requested permission to land a Boeing 767 at Whyalla Airport as both Adelaide and Melbourne airports were closed due to fog. Council made the runway available should Qantas need it, but only on the understanding that the Boeing may not be able to take off again. The Qantas Boeing 767 made it safely to its intended destination, but the whole incident highlighted the need for Whyalla to upgrade its main runway to safely accommodate such aircraft in the future.

Whyalla Airport is now[when?] in a difficult position as the South Australian mining boom gets underway. The city would make an ideal fly in/fly out location for the new mines,[4] but lacks the airport infrastructure to accommodate commercial jets. The City of Whyalla lacks the funds to initiate an upgrade of the main runway and both the Federal and State Governments are reluctant to financially help out, regardless of which political party is in power. Although Whyalla is now[when?] growing again, there is no doubt that such growth will be stunted if the local airport cannot be upgraded to the specifications needed by both defence and the mining industry.

On Wednesday, 17 September 2008, it was announced that Whyalla City Council were investigating spending over A$4 million on upgrading the airport to accept Boeing 737 aircraft. The study is to determine if it the airport upgrade is economically feasible.[5] The study will also look at funding options. As of February 2012, Council does not have the required $4.5 million for the pavement upgrade, but has some plans to improve the terminal facilities.[6] It is hoped some grants will be made available for the upgrade via both the Federal and State Governments. One source of funding the council is looking at is selling of some of the airport land (of which there is plenty surrounding the actual airport itself) to raise the required funds. Although confidential at this stage,[when?] one task council did complete[when?] was a valuation of the airport land.

Council is in the process[when?] of handing over the day to day running of the airport to another company. This company is conducting its feasibility study and an answer is expected by the of August 2009. However, as of July 2012 the airport is still operated by the Corporation of the City of Whyalla.[2] It is also believed[by whom?] that a bulky goods store will be established on the airport grounds along with a foodbank.

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Airlines Destinations
Regional Express Adelaide

Statistics[edit]

Whyalla Airport was ranked 51st in Australia for the number of revenue passengers served in financial year 2010-2011.[1][3]

Annual passenger and aircraft statistics for Whyalla[3]
Year[1] Revenue passengers Aircraft movements
2001-02
37,214
4,704
2002-03
36,190
4,302
2003-04
44,048
3,973
2004-05
55,076
4,120
2005-06
64,546
4,511
2006-07
76,091
4,879
2007-08
79,425
3,748
2008-09
68,087
2,996
2009-10
62,401
2,730
2010-11
66,539
2,845

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On 31 May 2000, a Piper PA-31-350 aircraft, registration VH-MZK, operated by Whyalla Airlines on flight WW904 crashed in the Spencer Gulf en route from Adelaide to Whyalla. The pilot and seven passengers were killed in the accident. The pilot radioed a mayday transmission when approximately 35 NM (65 km; 40 mi) from Whyalla advising air traffic control he intended to ditch the aircraft in the water if he could not make Whyalla Airport. The last reported position was 15 NM (28 km; 17 mi) from the airport. The subsequent investigation conducted by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau found the aircraft had suffered component failures in both of its engines.[7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Fiscal year 1 July - 30 June
  2. ^ a b c d YWHA – Whyalla (PDF). AIP En Route Supplement from Airservices Australia, effective 29 May 2014, Aeronautical Chart
  3. ^ a b c "Airport Traffic Data 1985-86 to 2010-11". Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE). May 2012. Retrieved 27 June 2012.  Refers to "Regular Public Transport (RPT) operations only"
  4. ^ "Vision 2020 Project:Australian Mineral Industry's Infrastructure Path to Prosperity". Minerals Council of Australia. May 2009. Retrieved 18 May 2012. 
  5. ^ "Whyalla council assessing airport upgrade". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 17 September 2008. Retrieved 18 May 2012. 
  6. ^ Kate Bilney (20 February 2012). "Time for an upgrade". Whyalla News. Retrieved 18 May 2012. 
  7. ^ "Aviation Safety Report 200002157". Australian Transport Safety Bureau. December 2001. Retrieved 18 May 2012. 

External links[edit]