Advocacy for the future of Katoomba Airfield continues, with the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association of Australia writing to Melanie Hawyes, Deputy Secretary of New South Wales Department of Crown Lands, to highlight the significance of the airfield to aviation safety and community, calling for the airfield to remain open.
The AOPA Australia letter comes in response to continued representations by the Blue Mountains City Council, claiming the Katoomba Airfield to be of no significance to the aviation industry, recommending its closure.
“AOPA Australia is genuinely concerned with the misinformation provided by the Blue Mountains City Council, contradicting the clear and significant safety contribution the airfield provides the aviation industry,
“Katoomba Airfield is not only essential for emergency services and aerial firefighting to protect the Blue Mountains community, but is vital for aviation safety, providing pilots transiting the mountains with a safe landing site should an emergency arise,
“Council representatives claiming the airfield to be of no significance to the aviation industry and that pilots can simply go elsewhere, are clearly not qualified to be making these dangerous representations.
“Anyone in council doubting how important the airfield is to aviation safety, I openly invite them to take a flight from Bankstown Airport, with a highly experienced flight instructor, to experience first hand a simulated engine failure over the Blue Mountains,
“Maybe after experiencing the situation first hand and gaining a direct understanding of how limited the options are to preserve the lives of pilots and passengers, would they begin to appreciate how important the airfield is to the industry. “, AOPA Australia CEO, Mr Benjamin Morgan.
Katoomba Airfield has been in operation since 1968, open to emergency services, aerial firefighting, search and rescue, general aviation and tourism. The airfield site is owned by the NSW Department of Crown Lands and licenced to private operator FlyBlue Pty Ltd.
“FlyBlue holds the view that our lease proposals have complied with all of the existing use rights and that a long-term lease should be issued without delay.
“We are working closely with the NSW Department of Crown Lands to ensure the airfield site remains in operation, however, at this time the Blue Mountains City Council are working vigorously to close the site.
“Council appear to be lacking a genuine understanding as to how important the airfield is. “, FlyBlue Managing Director, Mr Derek Larsen.