Trees at the landing strip causing safety concerns

The approach to the landing strip

Increasing tree heights near Warnervale Aircraft Landing Area (ALA) mean that sometimes, pilots have to stop flying in hot weather, Central Coast Aero Club General Manager, Andrew Smith, told a meeting of Central Coast Council on August 10.

Smith was speaking at the public forum before the council meeting where council discussed its reaction to the State Government’s review of the Warnervale Airport (Restrictions) Act (see separate story).

He said the obvious dangers of excessive tree heights adjacent to the runway had been mentioned before in council chambers by many experts in the field.

“The aero club has had a 363 day a year presence at the airport for decades and has had the opportunity to amend our operations and practices to suit the ever worsening tree height issue to keep a required safety buffer,” he said.

“This means that we need to sometimes stop flying, especially on hotter days in the summer months.

“Our concern here is firstly for our students, staff and members, but we can largely control this risk.

“What we cannot control, and Council cannot fully control, is the elevated risk faced by itinerant pilots and aircraft which are not familiar with the highly unusual approach paths required at Warnervale.

“We implore Council to fast track a pathway to the trimming of these trees in the shortest possible time span available to it.

“Once again, we are at Council’s service, if needed, to assist in this process where we can,” he said.

During the council meeting, Councillors heard that staff were close to finishing the legal steps required to allow trimming of the trees, which are on private property not owned by the council or the aero club.

CEO, Gary Murphy, said a meeting would be held with the aero club on Monday, August 17, to discuss the trees that need cutting to assist the safety of the pilots using the runway.

Merilyn Vale