LIFT OFF: Long-time member of the Warwick Gliding Club Bill Wilkinson says conversations are continuing with Southern Downs Regional Council about the need for a new taxiway.
LIFT OFF: Long-time member of the Warwick Gliding Club Bill Wilkinson says conversations are continuing with Southern Downs Regional Council about the need for a new taxiway. Sophie Lester

Taxiway discussion takes off

A PLANNED $700,000 upgrade at the Warwick Aerodrome is causing a stir among airfield users.

Southern Downs Regional Council has earmarked the airfield at Massie for a realignment of its taxiway in the 2017-18 draft budget.

In a public meeting at Warwick Town Hall on Tuesday night, council's acting director of engineering Michael Bell said the works followed an inspection by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority that deemed the existing taxiway not up to standard due to its proximity to aircraft sheds.

But members of the Warwick Gliding Club said the upgrades were not needed, and claim the money could be better spent elsewhere.

Life member Bill Wilkinson, who was at Tuesday's meeting, said the roadway CASA classified as a taxiway merely provided road access to hangars.

"It was never intended as a taxiway, it merely loops right around to give users of the airfield access to the hangars,” Mr Wilkinson said.

"Planes and gliders that land here don't need a new taxiway - they simply back up on the runway, will stop and make a radio call if they need to re-enter.”

Mr Bell said the council had to work within the requirements of CASA.

Mr Wilkinson however said other regional airports with greater air traffic operated without a taxiway.

"Roma, which is one of the busiest country airports in Queensland, Emerald, Mt Isa, Charleville do not have a taxiway - they all back up on their runways,” he said.

"A taxiway is only really needed where there is a lot of planes waiting to enter the runway like in Brisbane or Wellcamp, and Warwick does not have that traffic to justify it.”

Gliding Club secretary-treasurer Clyde Stubbs said the aerodrome was now registered in the same category as Wellcamp, which he said was why CASA had made the recommendation for the realignment.

He also said club members and hangar owners were not convinced of the need for a new taxiway.

"The airfield is registered as category 2B which would allow Dash 8 twin-engine propeller aircraft, the same sort of planes that Qantas use for their regional routes,” Mr Stubbs said.

"We do not have that class of aircraft landing here often, so it raises the question of firstly, why is it categorised that way and secondly why not put signage on the taxiway to say the 'taxiway' is not suitable for planes above a certain wingspan?”

Mr Wilkinson said the council and airfield users saw the value of the facility for the Southern Downs community.

"The council wants this facility for the Royal Flying Doctors to land, for fire service craft and ministers to be able to fly in for example, and it will continue to grow for recreational craft but not commercial use,” he said.

"We only found out about the realignment when the draft budget was released.

"It is essential infrastructure as a public facility but we feel it's a lot of money that could be spent elsewhere.

"We're getting more from CASA and are having discussions with council and hope we can work together to resolve this.”



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