By Michael Mangano
Runway Construction Begins at New Sydney Airport
Sydney’s newest airport is beginning to take shape with runway construction of the Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport officially commencing last week, according to its official website. The new international airport, slated for operations by late 2026, has transformed the once rural landscape of Western Sydney to a major civil construction site that is beginning to resemble an actual airport.
The 3,700 meter (12,100ft) runway has been “efficiently designed”, utilizing new technologies and rapid-exit taxiways to achieve a far more seamless and reliable for both passengers and airlines than Sydney’s only other international airport, Kingsford Smith. A major capability will be Western Sydney’s use of CAT III-B instrument landing systems — commonly known by its abbreviation, ILS — allowing precision landing in deteriorated runway visual range (RVR) that would otherwise pause flights at Kingsford Smith, which uses CAT II.
Additionally, the airport will utilise sustainable approaches to operation, including recycled LED where possible, movement plans to minimise fuel burn in aircraft, as well as plans to support a future of electric commercial aircraft. Construction of the site’s foundation is also made from crushed sandstone, reused from Sydney’s current tunnel projects.
The airport aims to be the main gateway to Australia, however with only one runway planned for opening and a second planned for as late as 2050, it will need to demonstrate its state-of-the-art and future proofed technology is up to that task.
Western Sydney Booming
The new airport is situated in what is considered the third largest economical area in Australia, with construction and operations to employ many in that area. With a rate of one in 10 Australians living in Western Sydney, employment will naturally be a major selling point for the airport.
Construction of homes is rapidly growing in Sydney as it expands westward, with Western Sydney International Airport just one of multiple major infrastructure projects underway in order to handle the ever-growing population, projected to reach 3 million in Sydney’s west by 2026.
At this point, memoranda of understanding have been entered between the airport and Qantas and Virgin Australia, the two largest carriers in Australia.
A Salute to Aviation Pioneers
In keeping with Sydney’s Kingsford Smith International Airport, the new Western Sydney Airport will be named after Australian aviation pioneer Nancy Bird Walton. Walton, the founder of the Australian Womens’ Pilots Association, was the youngest Australian woman to gain her pilot licence at 19 years of age, earning the name “Angel of the Outback”.
Having already been recognised by Qantas, naming their first A380 “Nancy-Bird”, Walton was pivotal in the operation of rural flying health service Royal Far West Children’s Health Scheme, where she used her own De Havilland Gypsy Moth.