Flight fears unfounded

Fears about aviation accidents occurring within and around Moorabbin Airport are largely unsubstantiated.

In the wake of the fatal Essendon DFO plane crash concerns have been raised about the dangers of encroaching retail developments at Moorabbin airport, however statistics indicate that the threat to local homes and businesses is minimal.

A plane lands within meters of Moorabbin DFO shopping centre. (Source: Holly P)

The number of flights in and out of Moorabbin airport has slightly increased from 235,000 in 2014 to more than 236,000 in 2016, with eight serious crashes and three fatalities since 2000, according to The Herald Sun’s Leader newspaper.

  • Flights in and out of the airport in 2016: 236,438
  • Serious crashes since 2000: 8
  • Recorded fatalities since 2000: 3

Craig Harwood, owner of Professional Helicopter Services said “aviation is inherently safe and very highly regulated; we can operate safely in most environments,” and that airport users are unconcerned about encroaching retail development.

“In the last ten years with the private management of these facilities they’ve activated unused land for retail development. As we’ve seen at Essendon, these buildings are susceptible to being hit, but so is any building from an aircraft anywhere,” said Mr Harwood.

The recent retail developments on airport land include a McCormick Foods warehouse, an expansive Costco development and a 31,000sqm Spectrum Brands warehouse.

Mr Harwood said “they can’t go within certain parameters like within the fence-line or runway. I don’t think they can build when it would impinge on the direct safety of the airport.”

Another concern is that the airport is primarily used as a training airport as it is has most flight training organisations in South East Asia, training 800 pilots annually.

“Moorabbin is very much a training hub; they’re with an instructor all the time. The industry is so highly regulated, (with) so many checks and balances and that’s why the accident rate is so low,” said Mr Harwood.

Local resident Sue Talbot said “living close to the airport is a concern; there is very little room for error now that nearly all the area immediately surrounding the airport is built up.”

“It seems a little ill-conceived that people learning to fly are flying right above shops, homes and schools when there are other airports where far fewer people would be affected,” said Ms Talbot.

Mr Harwood said “I can’t see the degradation of safety standards because it is so highly regulated and anyone who would try to do that would be seen as putting money over safety and that just does not happen in the aviation industry.”