Aerial view of the 2011 Langley Park Fly-In. Photo © Mir Zafriz

7 October 2015 copyright © David Eyre

Langley Park will see what may be its last ever use as an airstrip on Saturday 17 October 2015, with a Fly-In to be held as part of the annual Perth Heritage Days events, to celebrate Western Australia’s aviation pioneer, Sir Norman Brearley.

Norman  Brearley’s airline, Western Australian Airways (WAA), began the first airline  operations in Australia in 1921 (a year before Qantas), initially based at Langley Park.

The event is scheduled from 2pm to 4pm, with a number of aircraft to fly-in, including:

  • Boeing A75N1 Stearman (PT-17 Kaydet): VH-URC
  • Boeing B75N1 (N2S-3) Stearman: VH-YDF/4269 / 591
  • Boeing E75 (N2S-5) Stearman: VH-YND / “42-755362 / 362”
  • Cessna 170: VH-LIN
  • De Havilland DH-82A Tiger Moth: VH-NOV
  • De Havilland DH-82A Tiger Moth: VH-CKF/A17-421
  • De Havilland DHC-1 Chipmunk: VH-RHW/WB677
  • Great Lakes 2T-1A-2 Sport Trainer: VH-WQW
  • North American AT-6D Texan: VH-WWA/106
  • WACO Aircraft YMF-F5C: VH-YRB


9M-LNH Boeing 737-9GP ER (MSN 38732/4484) of Malindo Air, at Singapore - 24 July 2015. Photo © Ian Moy

9M-LNH Boeing 737-9GP ER (MSN 38732/4484) of Malindo Air, at Singapore – 24 July 2015.
Photo © Ian Moy

9 September 2015 © David Eyre (UPDATED 5 OCT 2015)

Malindo Air is to introduce flight services using Boeing 737-900ER aircraft from Kuala Lumpur to Perth, from 19 November 2015.

The airline had announced the proposed services in early September 2015, and has now received the necessary approvals from CASA and other Australian regulators.

The schedule initially involves daily flights from 19 November 2015, increasing to 11 weekly from 3 December 2015::

  • From 19 November 2015:
    • DAILY (Boeing 737-900ER): OD151 KUL0825 – 1410PER / OD152 PER1505 – 2100KUL
  • From 3 December 2015:
    • MON-SAT: (Boeing 737-900ER) OD151 KUL0825 – 1410PER / OD152 PER1500 – 2055KUL
    • TUE/FRI/SAT/MON (arr/dep Perth): (Boeing 737-900ER) OD153 KUL2315 – 0500PER / OD154 PER0700 – 1255KUL

The Malaysia-based airline Malindo has hubs at Kuala Lumpur International Airport and the old KL airport at Subang. Their fleet consists of six Boeing 737-800, six Boeing 737-900ER aircraft, with four more 737s due for delivery by the end of 2015. It also operates 11 ATR72 turboprops.

The entry of Malaysia’s AirAsia into Indonesia prompted Indonesian airline Lion Air to establish Malindo (derived from Malaysia and Indonesia) in Malaysia, as a joint venture between National Aerospace and Defence Industries (NADI) (51%) of Malaysia and Lion Air of Indonesia (49%).

Malindo launched services on 22 March 2013, and now operates to all major airports in Malaysia and internationally to Indonesia, Thailand, India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Singapore. Australia will be the eighth country served by the airline.

Malindo is considered to be a hybrid airline, as it combines some features of premium airlines with low cost fares. Its 737s feature Wi-Fi, an in-flight entertainment system for every seat, light snacks and a free meal, seat pitches of 32 inches in economy and 45 inches for business class, and free baggage allowances.

  • VH-NHY Fokker 100 (MSN 11467) of Qantas Link at Perth Airport – 21 September 2015.
    VH-NHY Fokker 100 (MSN 11467) of Qantas Link at Perth Airport – 21 September 2015. Taxying for a runway 03 departure at 1:11 pm. Photo © Keith Anderson.
9109 Pilatus PC-21 (MSN 117, civil reg 9V-YYI) of Republic of Singapore Air Force, 130 "Eagle" Sqn, at RAAF Base Pearce - Wed 1 April 2015. Based at Pearce. Photo © David Eyre

9109 Pilatus PC-21 (MSN 117, civil reg 9V-YYI) of Republic of Singapore Air Force, 130 “Eagle” Sqn, at RAAF Base Pearce – Wed 1 April 2015.
Based at Pearce.
Photo © David Eyre

A23-041 Pilatus PC-9/A (MSN 541) of the RAAF, 2 Flying Training School (2FTS), at RAAF Pearce – Wed 9 April 2014. Photo © David Eyre

A23-041 Pilatus PC-9/A (MSN 541) of the RAAF, 2 Flying Training School (2FTS), at RAAF Pearce – Wed 9 April 2014
On final approach to runway 36L.
Photo © David Eyre

6 September 2015 – copyright © David Eyre

Minister for Defence Kevin Andrews MP announced the selection of the ‘Team 21′ consortium of Lockheed Martin, Pilatus and Hawker Pacific as the preferred tenderer for Project AIR 5428, the new Australian Defence Force Pilot Training System, using 49 Pilatus PC-21 turboprop training aircraft from 2019.

The announcement was made at a ceremony on 6 September 2015 on the flight line of RAAF Base East Sale, where the Minister was joined by Parliamentary Secretary for Defence Darren Chester, Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Leo Davies, and government and community officials.

It was widely expected that the PC-21 would be preferred for the RAAF. The Republic of Singapore Air Force already operates the PC-21 at RAAF Base Pearce, so there may be operational and maintenance synergies in having a common type at Pearce, and Lockheed Martin has several years’ of PC-21 operational experience under its belt.

The losing bidder was a consortium of BAE Systems, CAE Australia and Beechcraft, which had offered the Beech T-6C based at Tamworth, with West Sale as an alternative. BAE will continue to provide pilot training for the ADF at Tamworth until the end of 2019. It also provides military flight training for Brunei, Papua New Guinea and Singapore, but the Singapore contract also ends in 2019.

Current ADF flight training

Currently, the military flying training of 88 weeks duration is conducted in two phases.

  • Basic Military Flying Training (25 weeks) is conducted at British Aerospace Flight Training Australia at Basic Flying Training School (BFTS), in Tamworth, NSW on the CT4B.
  • Advanced Flying Training (37 weeks) is conducted at RAAF Base Pearce, Western Australia. During this training, they fly 130 hours in the PC-9/A. Upon successful completion, graduates are awarded their wings and posted to a flying squadron.

New Pilot Training System

The new Pilot Training System will take pilots from flight screening through basic and advanced flying training, with an increased emphasis on flight simulator training that can be adapted to student needs, allowing them to progress through training faster.

Despite having fewer aircraft, more efficient training will see an increase in the number of pilots graduated, rising from the current 77 per year to 105, selected from an annual intake of 165 trainee pilots. The ADF said that the deal represented the best value for money over 25 years.

The 49 PC-21s will replace 30 CT4s and most of the 63 remaining PC-9/A aircraft (from 67 delivered – four were written off in crashes). It is unclear at this stage what will happen with the four modified PC-9/A Forward Air Control aircraft with 4 Squadron at RAAF Base Williamtown, which are fitted with smoke grenade dispensers for target marking. These are used to train ADF Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs, formerly forward air controllers) who coordinate air support to troops on the ground. Presumably the CFS and the Roulettes will use some of the East Sale-based PC-21s.

Basic Flying training will move from Tamworth to RAAF Base East Sale in Victoria, with 22 of the 49 Pilatus PC-21 aircraft to be based at East Sale. Relocating basic training to East Sale means that both Officer Training and Basic Flying Training will be located there. East Sale also houses the RAAF’s Central Flying School, which currently uses PC-9/A aircraft to teach qualified RAAF pilots to become flying instructors, who are then eligible to fly with the RAAF Roulettes aerobatic team.

Advanced training will continue to be conducted from RAAF Base Pearce with 2 Flying Training School (2FTS), which is presumably where the remaining 27 PC-21 aircraft will be based.

The decision will see replacement of the PAC CT4B and Pilatus PC-9/A trainer aircraft with the new Pilatus PC-21.

History of the CT4B in RAAF service

The CT/4 was developed in 1972 by New Zealand Aerospace Industries from the Australian-designed and built Victa Aircruiser, which was based on the 1960s Victa Airtourer.

Ironically, in 1967 Victa had to sell the manufacturing rights to AESL (later NZAI) in New Zealand due to lack of Australian Government support. Then in 1975, the RAAF ordered 51 CT/4A aircraft as a primary trainer.

Following withdrawal of the CT4A aircraft in the early 1990s, British Aerospace/Ansett Flying College (later BAE Systems) at Tamworth, NSW won the contract to provide the RAAF with pilot selection and basic flight training.

The Pacific Aerospace Corporation CT4B aircraft was selected and in 1991 the production line in New Zealand was re-opened.

The initial batch consisted of 12 new-build aircraft delivered in 1991-1992.

Additional CT4B aircraft were acquired through the a purchase of 14 ex-RNZAF aircraft, which were delivered in 1999. Four ex-civilian CT4 aircraft were also purchased in 2011.

History of the PC-9 in RAAF service

The RAAF began looking for a new trainer to replace both the Macchi MB-326H jet and NZAI CT-4A Airtrainer from about 1979.

The evaluation considered the Embraer Tucano, Norman Turbo Firecracker, Pilatus PC-7 and PC-9, CT-4 variants, locally-designed AAC Wamira and others. In December 1985, the Pilatus PC-9 turboprop was selected.

The requirements for the trainer changed, as it was decided that RAAF pilots would start on the CT-4, earn their wings on the PC-9 and go onto lead in fighter training on the MB-326 (the MB-326 was later replaced by the BAE Hawk).

The initial order was for 69 PC-9s, but this was reduced to 67. The RAAF version was designated PC-9/A, as it was to be assembled under licence in Australia. Aerospace Technologies of Australia (ASTA, formerly GAF) supplied the fuselages and tailplane, the wings were built by Hawker de Havilland Victoria (HDH, formerly Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation – CAC), Dunlop Aerospace supplied the undercarriage and HDH at Bankstown was responsible for final assembly and flight testing.

The first two aircraft (A23-001 and 002) were fully assembled by Pilatus in Switzerland. The next six (A23-003 to 008) were assembled in Australia by Hawker de Havilland at Bankstown from imported components. Major components for a further 11 (A23-009 to 019) were supplied by Pilatus and the final 48 aircraft (A23-020 to 067) were completely been built in Australia.

A23-001 was displayed at the 1987 Paris Air Show. A23-001 and 002 were delivered to Australia in October 1987 and handed over to the RAAF in November 1987. A23-003 first flew in November 1987 and production slowly ramped up.

Pilot training on the PC-9 commenced in 1989, with 2FTS at RAAF Pearce. The PC-9 also joined the Central Flying School and the Roulettes aerobatic team in 1990. The last RAAF PC-9 was delivered in March 1992.

Compared to the Macchi, the PC-9 was slower but was better in terms of maneuverability, rate of climb, operating costs and efficiency.

PC-9s began to replace CAC Winjeels in the Forward Air Control training role at Williamtown NSW from April 1994, with a total of four in use with 4 Squadron. One was also used by the Aerospace Operational Support Group at RAAF Edinburgh in South Australia.

Four PC-9/A aircraft were lost in crashes: A23-029 (21 Jan 2005); A23-035 (5 Aug 1991); A23-039 (18 May 2011) and A23-055 (21 Mar 1992).

By 2008, the RAAF’s PC-9 fleet had flown over 375,000 hours. The Pilatus PC-9/A fleet was intended to be withdrawn in 2008, but the aircraft is robust and well-maintained, so its life was extended to 2019 and may be extended further if required.

Pilatus PC-21

Development of the PC-21 started in 1999 and the aircraft made its first flight in 2002.

The PC-21 was certified in December 2004 and limited production began in 2005.

The first order for the PC-21 was received in 2007 from the Republic of Singapore Air Force, for a total of 19 to replace its SIAI-Marchetti S-211 jet trainers, based at RAAF Base Pearce in Western Australia. All of the RSAFs PC-21s were delivered during 2008.

The PC-21 has accrued more than 60,000 flying hours with the air forces of Singapore, Switzerland and the UAE. It is also entering service with Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Comparison: PC-9 versus PC-21



Wing span 10.12 m 9.11 m
Length 10.17 m 11.23 m
Height 3.26 m 3.75 m
Empty weight 1,701 kg 2,250kg
Max take off weight 2, 250 kg (aerobatic) / 3,200 kg (with stores) 3,100kg (aerobatic) / 4,250 kg (with stores)
Max weight of stores 950 kg 1,150 kg
Engine One 950shp Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-62 turboprop One 1600shp Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-68B
Max speed 300kt (556km/h) 370 kt (Mach 0.72)
Cruise speed 271 kt 337 kt
Stall speed 69 kt 81 kt (gear / flaps down)
Initial climb: (aerobatic weight) 4,090 ft (1,247m)/min 4,250 ft/min
Service Ceiling 38,000ft (11,582m) 38,000 feet (11,580 m)
Range 887nm (1,642km) 1295 km

2 September 2015 © David Eyre

The 20th Australian National Balloon Championship was held at Northam Airfield, around 100km east of Perth, from 28 August – 6 September 2015.

National balloon Championships, Northam 2015, Competition day three - 2 September 2015.

National balloon Championships, Northam 2015, Competition day three – 2 September 2015.
Photo © Keith Anderson.


Aibotix X6 UAV being used to conduct a survey of Rio Tinto's Argyle Diamond Mine in September 2014. Since the open pit mine cannot be entered below a level of 50 meters, aerial surveying is the only possibility to detect subsidence or other potential dangers to the workers underground at an early stage. Photo © Aibotix

Aibotix X6 UAV being used to conduct a survey of Rio Tinto’s Argyle Diamond Mine in September 2014. Since the open pit mine cannot be entered below a level of 50 meters, aerial surveying is the only possibility to detect subsidence or other potential dangers to the workers underground at an early stage.
Photo © Aibotix

2 September 2015 © David Eyre

Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPAs), also known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or ‘drones’ have recently seen a phenomenal growth in their use, not just by private owners, but also by commercial operators.

Civilian UAVs range from privately-owned model aircraft and helicopters, to larger and heavier commercial UAVs that carry various types of equipment such as sensors, cameras, cargo and so on.

The rules

Aviation regulators around the world have struggled to keep pace with this proliferation of UAVs, rushing to implement legislation, rules and guidance to regulate usage.

In Australia, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has set separate rules for private and commercial UAV use.

Privately owned and operated model aircraft

Privately owned and operated model aircraft cannot be flown for money and must only be operated in line-of-sight in daylight. They cannot be flown at night, in cloud or fog.
They must not be flown closer than 30 metres to vehicles, boats, buildings or people, and cannot fly over any populous area, such as beaches, other people’s backyards, heavily populated parks, or sports ovals where there is a game in progress or within 5.5 kilometres of an airfield.
In controlled airspace, which covers most Australian cities, you must not fly model aircraft higher than 400 feet (120 metres).

Commercial UAVs

CASA considers that commercial UAV pilots need general aviation knowledge similar to a private pilot’s licence, as well as specific unmanned aircraft skills.

It is illegal to fly any size of UAV for money or economic reward unless you have an unmanned operator’s certificate issued by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), and an unmanned operator’s certificate (UOC) for your business. Due to a surge in applications for certificates, there is now a wait time of up to 10 months. Additional ratings include a flight radio operator’s licence, and experience on the type of UAV operated.

Commercial UAVs can operate over unpopulated areas up to 400 feet above ground level (120 metres), or higher with special approvals. Special approvals are also required for other areas. They can operate in visual meteorological conditions (VMC) and /or instrument meteorological conditions (IMC), with appropriate approvals.

Operations are not permitted in controlled airspace without CASA approval and coordination with Airservices Australia.

Commercial usage in Western Australia

Mining and Petroleum

A relatively recent development is the use of UAVs by Australia’s largest mining and petroleum companies.

Due to the sheer scale of resources operations (mines, railways, pipelines and ports cover hundreds of kilometres) and also the large size of machinery, plant and equipment, UAVs are seen as a safer and more efficient way of conducting safety and environmental inspections, monitoring and surveying.

UAVs can be built to withstand heat, chemicals, and toxins, reaching areas where people cannot go. They can also do their work whilst the equipment or plant is still operating, which saves time and saves money in avoiding shut downs, which can be extremely expensive. UAVs can be used to inspect equipment and mining pits, check mineral stockpiles, pipelines, and even assist with environmental rehabilitation and monitoring work. They can be fitted with video or thermal imaging cameras to inspect equipment much faster, safer and cheaper than risking workers on climbing up to great heights or using helicopters.

Mines have used ground-based autonomous vehicles for a number of years, including driverless trucks and trains and autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles. Many of these are controlled from Operations Centres located in Perth. However, the use of UAVs is relatively new.

Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton use UAVs to survey and inspect mine pits, mineral stockpiles, and to monitor operations. FMG has also trialled UAVs at Cloudbreak mine and is likely to use them.

In the oil and gas sector, Woodside Energy uses UAVs to inspect at heights, removing the time needed to build scaffolding and eliminating the safety risk to workers.

Aerial photography and cinematography

Specially-designed UAVs equipped with specially-designed still camera and video camera systems can capture high resolution still photographs and video images, operating with low noise levels.

Unlike manned helicopters or fixed wing aircraft, these are able to get as close as 5 metres to the subject. This enables close-ups of high rise buildings, historic buildings, bridges, towers and homes, which makes them useful for real estate advertising.

Engineering and construction

Camera-equipped UAVs enable construction project managers and engineers to see construction from almost any angle.

This can include real time video streaming, progress monitoring, time lapse photography, and photography from specific vantage points.

Building, chimney, tower and roof inspections

UAVs can be used to conduct roof inspections or check for storm damage, without using cranes or cherry pickers and without risks to worker safety.

It is also much more efficient, covering large areas quickly, and has the ability to reach areas that a crane or worker cannot.

Environmental monitoring

UAVs can be used to conduct initial and ongoing environmental assessments, including time lapse photography. GPS equipment enables precise mapping of coordinates in three dimensions.

Emergency services, law enforcement and beach patrols

UAVs enable emergency services personnel to quickly obtain a live overview of any disaster or accident situation, to assess the best way to deal with fires, chemical spills, storm or flood damage.

They can also be used for search and rescue as well as beach patrols, watching for sharks and swimmers in difficulty.

VH-OLL SAAB 340B (MSN 340B-0175) of Regional Express, at Adelaide - 25 October 2013. Photo © Ian Moy

VH-OLL SAAB 340B (MSN 340B-0175) of Regional Express, at Adelaide – 25 October 2013.
Photo © Ian Moy

28 August 2015 © David Eyre

Regional Express (REX) is considering whether to establish regional services in Western Australia, as the State Government last month issued a tender for regulated regional routes.

REX is Australia’s largest independent regional airline, with a fleet of more than 40 Saab 340B aircraft on over 1,300 weekly flights to 53 destinations throughout New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Queensland.

REX has been expanding operations in Queensland and is now reviewing the WA Government tender for regulated regional routes from Perth to Albany, Monkey Mia, Carnarvon, Derby, Esperance, Learmonth and the northern Goldfields.

Each of the contracts is awarded on a route-by route basis for five years, with no more than one operator on each route. The next contract begins on 27 February 2016, with the Government setting maximum fares, minimum flight frequencies and on-time performance standards.

The regulated routes have been operated since 2011 by QantasLink, Skippers Aviation and Virgin Australia Regional Airlines.

25 August 2015 Copyright © David Eyre

A consortium comprising of AMP Capital and Infrastructure Capital Group (ICG) is to lease Port Hedland International Airport for 50 years, in a deal worth $205 million.

The Town of Port Hedland voted to accept the offer, which includes a $165 million one-off payment to the Town and a mandatory commitment to spend $40 million over the next five years on airport upgrades. This was more than the $137 million – $157 million that the Town expected to raise from the lease.

The consortium plans to improve and extend the airport’s terminal and taxiways. The Town of Port Hedland also hopes that they will push for reduced airfares and new routes to international destinations.

AMP Capital also manages Melbourne Tullamarine Airport in Victoria, Launceston Airport in Tasmania and Newcastle Airport in the UK.

Port Hedland International Airport is vital for supporting the resources industry and the huge port.

Current airlines operating flights to and from Port Hedland are:

  • Airnorth: Embraer E170 from Karratha, departs to Broome.
  • Alliance Airlines: Fokker 100s on mining FIFO charters to Newman
  • Casair: Swearingen Metro II from Jandakot, departs to Karratha
  • Qantas: Boeing 737-800s to Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane
  • QantasLink: Fokker 100s to Perth, plus mining FIFO charters to Cloudbreak (Dave Forrest) and Christmas Creek – FIFO; Boeing 717s to Broome and Perth
  • Virgin Australia: Boeing 737-800s to Perth; plus one B737-800 international flight each Saturday to Bali (Denpasar).
  • Virgin Australia Regional Airlines: Fokker 100s to Perth.
Qantas Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. © Qantas

Qantas Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.
© Qantas

Map showing Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner range from Sydney. © Qantas

Map showing Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner range from Sydney.
© Qantas

20 August 2015 Copyright © David Eyre

Qantas has announced a confirmed order for eight Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft on the back of a financial transformation that saw a profit before tax of $975 million.

Long-awaited Dreamliners for Qantas International

The order for eight Qantas Dreamliners sees the first four enter service during the 2017/18 financial year and the remaining four in 2018/19. The eight 787s ordered are actually five exercised options and the conversion of orders for three smaller Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners which were on order for Jetstar to Boeing 787-9s for Qantas.

Qantas has 15 further options and 30 purchase rights for additional 787s, with flexible delivery dates.

The Boeing 787-9s will gradually replace five Boeing 747-400s, which will be withdrawn from service before requiring a heavy maintenance ‘D check’. The 787-9 seats around 100 less passengers than the 747-400, but the 787 will enable Qantas to develop new routes.

The 787 is more fuel-efficient, has lower maintenance costs, larger tintable windows, better cabin air filtration and technology that reduces cabin pressure and turbulence. FACTSHEET ON BOEING 787-9

Qantas originally ordered up to 115 Boeing 787 Dreamliners in 2005, for delivery between 2008 and 2020, to replace their Boeing 767s and Airbus A330s and to develop new international routes.

An initial 15 of the smaller Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners were ordered, but Qantas Group management decided to divert these to Jetstar. One order was later cancelled, so 11 were delivered to Jetstar and the order for the remaining three 787-8 aircraft for Jetstar was converted to an order for three 787-9s for Qantas, in the order announced today.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce had set out three requirements before any Qantas Dreamliner order would be placed; a return to sustainable profit for Qantas International, repaying $1 billion of debt and negotiating suitable pay arrangements for 787 crews. These requirements were all met.

Qantas returns to profitability

Qantas turned around a $646 million underlying pre-tax loss last year to a $975 million pre-tax profit in 2014/15, a $1.6 billion turnaround.

This consisted of:
  • $576 million from cost cutting, including 5,000 job cuts and a wage freeze, closure of call centres and some maintenance bases;
  • $461 million from lower fuel prices;
  • $195 million from aircraft depreciation and write downs;
  • $182 million from improved aircraft utilisation, including faster aircraft turnarounds at airports, and an end to the domestic capacity war with Virgin Australia;
  • $136 million from improved fuel efficiency, including retirement of older Boeing 747-400s and 767-300ERs;
  • $116 million from removal of the carbon tax.


Terminal 1 Domestic Pier under construction at Perth Airport - Tue 11 August 2015. Now in the finals stages of construction and about to commence initial operational trials. Photo © David Eyre

Terminal 1 Domestic Pier under construction at Perth Airport – Tue 11 August 2015.
Now in the finals stages of construction and about to commence initial operational trials.
Photo © David Eyre

19 August 2015 © David Eyre

Perth Airport is about to commence initial trials of the new $200 million Domestic Pier at Terminal 1, in preparation for operations by Virgin Australia from late November.

Volunteers or “mock passengers” will be used in the operational trials during September and October 2015 to test that the Domestic Pier systems and processes work as expected before operations commence.

The Virgin Australia Pier was originally meant to open in June 2014, but this was delayed to October 2014, then January 2015, and finally “late 2015”. A new building contractor had to be engaged to complete the project, adding to the delays.

Virgin Australia has complained that the delays are costing the airline money and are bad for customers, as the airline has to operate out of three terminals on opposite sides of the airport, causing inconvenience and confusion for passengers on connecting flights:

  • Terminal 1 is used for international flights to Phuket, Bali and Christmas Island.
  • Terminal 2 is used by Virgin Australia Regional Airlines (formerly Skywest) on intrastate regional flights within WA
  • Terminal 3 is used by Virgin Australia for both intrastate and interstate domestic flights.

Besides Virgin Australia lounges, the new Domestic Pier will have new check-in and bag drop technology – the first airport in Australia to feature this.

As part of the preparations, Perth Airport is to re-number all existing aircraft Bays with a 1 in front of the existing Bay number (e.g. Bay 54 becomes Bay 154).

The new Bays on the Domestic Pier are Bays 143 to 150 and Bay 151A, with Bays 143-149 for domestic flights only and Bay 150 for domestic or international flights:

  • Bays 143-146 designed for aircraft up to A320/A321/B737 size
  • Bays 143A, 144A, 145A and 146A are for Fokker 50s.
  • Bays 147, 148, 149 are designed for aircraft up to A330 size and have dual aerobridges.
  • Bays 147A and 148B and 149A can take aircraft up to A320/A321/B737 size.
  • Bays 148A and 149B can take Embraer E190 and Fokker 100 only
  • Bay 150 can take international or domestic flights, with aircraft up to A380 size. It has a dual aerobridge capable of accessing the upper deck of the A380.
  • Bays 150A and B can take aircraft up to A320/A321/B737 size.
New bay numbers at Perth Airport Terminal 1 - the new Domestic Pier is at upper left. © 2015 Airservices Australia

New bay numbers at Perth Airport Terminal 1 – the new Domestic Pier is at upper left.
© 2015 Airservices Australia