Pearce option shot down

An aerial photo of RAAF base Pearce during last year’s Air Show.
An aerial photo of RAAF base Pearce during last year’s Air Show.

The reports suggested the Bullsbrook airport could be an interim measure to alleviate congested air traffic at the burgeoning Perth Airport until a third runway was built.

At least two Perth-based airline officials recently visited Pearce to inspect its facilities, according to the reports.

But the Department of Defence was quick to reject the idea, despite the fact two RAAF airfields in Australia already accommodate civilian flights.

Joint-user RAAF airbases in Darwin and Williamtown, near Newcastle, cater to commercial flights.

But a Defence spokesman said they operated much differently to the Pearce base.

‘Darwin is a joint-user airfield, which is specifically designed to cater for both military and civilian aircraft operations,’ he said.

‘And the number of flights available to Newcastle Airport is limited due to the primacy of military flights and essential training.’

According to the spokesman, RAAF Base Pearce was one of the busiest and most complex Defence airfields in the nation.

‘RAAF Base Pearce operates using very specialised air traffic procedures to allow for the large quantity and type of air traffic,’ he said.

The spokesman said although commercial aircraft could land at RAAF Base Pearce in an emergency, it simply did not have the necessary infrastructure to off-load passengers, process baggage and refuel civilian aircraft.

‘(The base) does not have the airfield or airport infrastructure required to support civilian airline operations.’

West Swan MLA Rita Saffioti said the prospect of using Pearce as a joint-commercial facility was a ‘dumb idea’.

‘Not only would moving some commercial flight operations to Pearce substantially increase aircraft noise around the Ellenbrook area, it would also place additional pressure on an already congested road network in our city’s north-east,’ she said.

‘The State Government has done almost nothing to alleviate the major traffic problems already facing my electorate, so moving commercial flights out to Pearce and consequently putting more traffic on already congested and unsafe roads is just simply a very dumb idea.’