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Wednesday, 29 February 2012
Page: 2384

Mr ZAPPIA (Makin) (19:45): Parafield Airport was established around 1930. At the time of its establishment, the airport's location was considered to be relatively remote and well outside of Adelaide's residential areas. Over the years, Adelaide's urban sprawl has resulted in Parafield Airport being in the middle of suburbia, surrounded by residential, recreation, industrial and business areas. The privatisation of the airport in 1997 by the Howard government saw even further encroachment, with substantial commercial developments on the perimeter of the airport and more similar developments being proposed for the future.

Parafield Airport is a general aviation airport primarily used by lighter aircraft, complementing air services at Adelaide Airport located several kilometres away. For the past 40 years or so, a main function of the airport has been pilot training with a strong reliance on international students. Flight training now accounts for most of the airport's aircraft movements. In more recent times, the airport has also been used for helicopter flight training—an even more disruptive activity.

Parafield is one of the busiest general aviation airports in Australia, with around 250,000 movements per year. Those figures have at times been higher and are very dependent on international student numbers at the flight training colleges. With changes both within and outside the airport, aviation activities at the airport are at times incompatible with surrounding residential areas—a point highlighted by the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport when he rejected the Parafield Airport master plan in May 2010. In rejecting the master plan the minister said:

Parafield Airport has failed to provide the community with accurate information about current and forecast aircraft movements and they did not adequately consult with those sections of the community that will be the most affected by aircraft noise as the airport grows.

Parafield Airport should make sure that there is clear public information about the hours of flight training, agreed flight paths and contact information for the public. Over more recent years, there have been calls to have the airport relocated but, as the minister has also made clear, there is no likelihood of that occurring in the foreseeable future. The issue therefore becomes one of how best to minimise the impact of airport activities on surrounding developments.

The primary concern is that of the flight training activities whereby trainee pilots fly in circuit over residents, at relatively low altitudes. The relentless buzzing over the homes becomes more than just a nuisance; it can be very disruptive to residential living and community activities. With much of the residential area immediately to the east of the airport being a 'hills face' development, the height of aircraft as they fly over those homes is effectively reduced and the noise is exacerbated. Most residents I speak to accept that flight training is a legitimate airport activity, although others argue that flight training is not a core purpose of the airport and that flight training over residential areas is, indeed, inappropriate because of the possible risks to residents with trainees flying aircraft.

Residents also accept that the airport was there well before the houses. What they do not accept and what they question is why the aircraft have to fly on continuous circuits above the houses and why they have to start so early in the morning, particularly on public holidays and weekends, which, for many working people, is the only time they can sleep-in or rest. Their frustration, annoyance and sometimes anger is understandable. I am advised that some restrictions do apply and that circuit training is only permitted between 7 am until 11 pm from Monday to Friday, between 7 am and 9 pm on Saturday, and between 8 am and 9 pm on Sunday. I would have thought that a later starting time on Saturday and Sunday would not be unreasonable. Whether those restrictions are being adhered to is also a matter of contention. Nor does there appear to be any restriction on flying activities on public holidays, where the commencement time of circuit training is also a common cause of complaint.

The issues surrounding Parafield Airport have been the cause of public disquiet and residents' criticism for almost three decades. Whilst there has been some success in changing airport activities, the situation is far from satisfactory, even with the introduction of airport master plans and the five-year review of those plans. It is an issue often raised with me by people in the local community.

With the recent redistribution of electoral boundaries, Parafield Airport now lies within the Makin electorate, which I represent. I therefore raise this matter in the parliament and bring it to the attention of the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport because I believe that much of the community angst and criticism could be overcome with a little consideration and better management of flight training activities at the airport.