Gladstone Airport is is one of Central Queensland’s most important pieces of infrastructure, the gateway to industry, tourism and an essential part of the region’s transport network.

Gladstone Airport Corporation (GAC) sought to resolve some complex cost/benefit issues related to the operation of its instrument landing system:

  • The widening of runway 10/28 to 45m for Code 4 operations had resulted in non-compliance with existing aviation infrastructure infringing the mandated runway strip. The OLS for a Code 4 runway required a 300m wide runway strip to be clear of any obstacles. This was not able to be achieved due to the airport’s original design according to Code 3 requirements, the limited aerodrome land site and existing infrastructure and buildings which would infringe the runway strip.
  • GAC could not provide precision approach procedures for runway 10 (ILS procedures) due to existing obstacles within the required 300m runway strip and the topography surrounding the airport (it operated as a localiser approach with higher minima than a precision approach would normally have).
  • ILS maintenance was a significant financial impost to GAC, and although a charge per ILS approach was published in its Conditions of Use, it did not invoice this charge.
  • Taxiway A runs parallel to the runway, and with separation of only 100 m, did not meet the minimum separation distance from the runway applicable to a precision approach aerodrome. The separation distance was not permitted to be less than 168 m for Code C and 176 m for Code D aircraft.
  • The published landing minima of the ILS approach for runway 10 was similar to the non-precision Localizer and GNSS approach minima and did not provide a demonstrable safety benefit over those existing procedures that was commensurate with the additional cost.

Aviation Projects assisted GAC by preparing a detailed and thorough risk assessment, developing and implementing a stakeholder engagement program and informing management decision-making during the course of the project.

GAC advised its stakeholders of the proposals to change Gladstone Airport’s aerodrome reference code status to Code 3 non-precision instrument, decommission the instrument landing system (ILS), and described how Gladstone Airport Corporation (GAC) would seek feedback from stakeholders in relation to these proposals.

It consulted with Queensland Government, Gladstone Regional Council, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Airservices Australia, relevant airlines, Royal Flying Doctor Service, local aircraft operators and the wider aviation community through the Queensland Regional Airspace and Procedures Advisory Committee (RAPAC).
A number of important issues were raised during this stakeholder engagement process, including a preference for the publication of new, runway aligned LNAV and LNAV/VNAV approach procedures on runway 10 before the ILS was made unavailable.

On 6 December 2019, the GAC board of directors decided to proceed with both proposed changes and instructed that the ILS was to be made unavailable and the aerodrome revert to code 3 non-precision instrument status.

The ILS was subsequently made unavailable on 11 March 2020.

Gladstone Airport Corporation engaged Aviation Projects in its Decommissioning of its ILS / Downgrade to Code 3 Instrument Non-Precision.

I personally came into this project towards the end of its life, but was bought up to speed by Keith and his team, to understand the current position. The detail and complete understanding by Keith was nothing short of amazing, making the update incredibly easy.

Aviation Projects had documented each step of the process and laid out a roadmap, which would lead us to decommission our ILS and ultimately downgrade our airport to a Code 3 to meet some of the new regulatory requirements in the new MOS 139.

Keith’s sound knowledge of aerodromes and the aviation business operating environment, helped us take a holistic approach, we covered every aspect and this made the project such a huge success from every angle:

1. Stakeholder engagement
2. Community engagement
3. Regulatory engagement
4. Political considerations
5. Media Releases

These key elements allowed us to develop a clear pathway to the decommissioning of the ILS, with GAC being able to demonstrate that we had considered every risk and impact to the airport, airline operations and the local community. Our engagement with airlines meant that we were able to ensure the airline businesses had a sense of comfort for the change in landing procedures, in particular with Airservices' introduction of Baro-VNAV.

The detailed analysis and viability of maintaining the ILS, was highlighted by the statistics and data researched by Aviation Projects. It became blatantly clear, that the ILS did not provide any real benefit to our aerodrome or its safety in operating, but a huge operating cost.

The project was delivered on time and within budget.

GAC would have no hesitation in recommending Aviation Projects to any aerodrome operator, for their professionalism, knowledge and detailed data analysis.

Mr Mark Cachia, Chief Executive Officer, Gladstone Airport Corporation
Gladstone Airport ILS Decommissioning and Downgrade to Code 3