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Wednesday, 19 May 1965

Senator HENTY (Tasmania) (Minister for Civil Aviation) . - by leave - My attention has been drawn to a letter from Captain P. J. R. Shields, Chairman of the Operations Group, Overseas Branch, Australian Federation of Air Pilots which was incorporated in " Hansard " by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) in the House of Representatives last night. In fact Mr. Wentworth referred the letter to me last September, I passed the matter over to the operational experts of the Department of Civil Aviation and a reply to the points raised by Captain Shields was sent to the honorable member for Mackellar on 30th October last. Mr. Wentworth has not questioned the reply in when he incorporated Captain Shields's letter, in fairness he should also have given the reply. I am quite prepared to table the reply. I am quite prepared to table the reply if the Senate wishes.

I should like also to make two other observations on Captain Shields's letter. Pilots have a statutory obligation to report any hazardous incident or circumstance that conies to their attention. The Department of Civil Aviation has not received any reports from the Australian Federation of Air Pilots or from individual pilots which support Captain Shields's somewhat extravagant description of Sydney airport as a pilot's nightmare in wet conditions. I might add that Captain Shields himself appeared before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works when it considered the proposal to extend the north-south runway at Sydney. He himself suggested that a runway length of 8,000 feet with a 500 feet stopway was suitable for safe international jet operations and said that this length would permit almost complete abolition of the noise nuisance in the surrounding residential areas. That is precisely what is being done at Sydney; the north-south runway is being extended to 8.000 feet with a 500 feet stopway. Certainly Qantas Empire Airways Ltd. has since introduced Boeing 707-338C jet aircraft which are heavier than the Boeing 707-1 38B. However, the existing and proposed runway lengths at Sydney will be sufficient to permit satisfactory payloads to be uplifted by this heavier type of aircraft. That is the position.

The existing runways, with the extension now under way, will be quite satisfactory for the operation of subsonic jet airliners. We know that further extensions will be needed for supersonic airliners. Quite frankly no-one knows yet with precision what length will be needed for the supersonic airliners which could be in airline service some time after 1971 or 1972. What we have done is to build the runways at both Sydney and Melbourne of sufficient strength to take supersonic airliners. When the length necessary for their oneration is determined, the Government will be in a position to decide the issue.

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