10 April 2015 (Updated 14 April 2015) © David Eyre
The City of Perth has approved a two-year trial of of two floating helipads on the north side of the Swan River, opposite the Perth Concert Hall and Terrace Road carpark, 200 metres to the east of WA Rowing Club, near Barrack Street Jetty.
Approval for the trial was granted on 7 April 2015, in a unanimous vote, but is subject to conditions and environmental regulatory approval from the Swan River Trust.
Skyline Aviation Group is funding the entire project and had first proposed the helipads in August 2013. Skyline Aviation is based in Newcastle, NSW with a fleet of Robinson R22’s and R44’s, Agusta Bell AB206 JetRangers, Eurocopter AS350 Squirrels and BO-105s. Skyline will purchase and base one helicopter at the helipad, but has not yet decided on the type.
Brett Campany, the head of Skyline’s Perth operations, previously flew for Rotorvation, Channel 9 News Perth and was the owner/operator of Wild Blue Helicopters in Margaret River. Before becoming a pilot, he flew as aircrew for Surveillance Australia on the Coastwatch contract and aboard AeroRescue’s Dornier 328.
Mr Campany expects that other operators will pay a landing fee to use the second helipad, for the purpose of picking up and dropping off helicopter charter passengers in the city. This was a common request when he was based at Jandakot. The RAC rescue helicopter, WA Police helicopter or Surf Life Saving WA’s beach patrol helicopter may occasionally require the use of the second helipad.
The 7-metres by 7-metres floating helipads will be positioned 20 metres from the river edge. They were designed, surveyed and engineered by Building Lines, and are capable of taking a weight of up to 16 tonnes.
Floating helipads were chosen because a land-based helipad would require the council to provide funding, clear an appropriate area and provide infrastructure. The water-based location also keeps the noise profile to a minimum by increasing the distance between the helicopter and local businesses and residences. To further reduce noise pollution, operating hours will be restricted to 7am to 7pm, seven days a week, except on public holidays. The company has already conducted some acoustic noise data analysis. It is expected that the helipads will take a maximum of 30 flights a day. Refuelling will not be permitted at the helipads, for environmental reasons.
Mr Campany said that “We will be conducting scenic flights, however to reduce the amount of noise impact on the surrounding businesses and residence, the shortest flight will be around 20 minutes. The focus is mainly on tourism and the promoting the City of Perth, Swan River and the coastline from Hillarys to Fremantle. We will also be providing services to Rottnest Island and the Swan Valley.”
“With my previous business in the Margaret River region, I also have strong relationships with the wineries, breweries, retreats and resorts in the South West region.”
There have been requests for a permanent helipad location within the central city over the last decade. Helicopters have used various temporary sites since the 1960s, mainly near The Causeway. In the mid-1980s, a temporary helipad was built for helicopters to use during the America’s Cup yacht races. This was located on the river foreshore at the eastern end of Riverside Drive, but was later moved due to construction of the Point Fraser development. Another temporary facility was set up from 2006 to 2011 at East Perth, between Trinity Avenue and The Causeway, but the licence for this facility was terminated because of the Waterbank project. Another temporary helipad was established on the east side of Camfield Drive opposite Burswood Casino Resort, but the lease for that site expired. Langley Park has also been used occasionally as a helicopter landing site for special occasions and emergencies. Since that time, helicopters have been restricted to Jandakot Airport.