Bankstown Airport (IATA: BWU, ICAO: YSBK) is an airport and business park located in the Canterbury-Bankstown Council Local Government Area, 22 km (14 mi) from the central business district of Sydney, Australia. It is the second biggest airport serving Sydney. The airport is situated on 313 ha (770 acres) of land and has three parallel runways, several apron areas, a small passenger terminal and a business park, home to over 180 businesses. It primarily serves general, recreational and charter flights.
Bankstown Airport operates 24 hours a day, with limitations placed on night circuit training. In the calendar year of 2011, Airservices Australia recorded 243,126 aircraft movements at the airport. This makes it the fourth busiest airport in Australia by number of movements, after Sydney's Kingsford Smith Airport, Moorabbin Airport in Melbourne and Jandakot. Bankstown Airport is also the second busiest airport in Sydney. Most of the traffic reported (208,226) is in the sub 7 tonnes light aircraft category. The airport is a major hub of Australian general aviation, is home to numerous fixed-wing and helicopter flying schools, charter operators, aircraft maintenance businesses, and private aircraft.
Bankstown Airport is owned by the Federal Government and leased by Bankstown Airport Limited, a subsidiary of BAC Airports Pty Limited, whose ultimate shareholders include JF Infrastructure, Colonial First State and Australian Super. BAC Airports also owns Camden Airport, another of the two general aviation airports in the Sydney basin. Bankstown Airport's business precincts are home to a large number of non-aviation businesses in addition to the many aviation related ones.
Bankstown Airport was originally planned in 1929. The plan to build an airport at Bankstown was put on hold until it was established in 1940, after the commencement of World War II when the Department of Civil Aviation attained 630 acres (2.5 km2) of land for development as a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) facility. The formal proclamation of the Bankstown airfield project occurred under the National Security Act on 7 June 1940. The urgency was such that work began immediately; the Act permitted construction to begin even before the land had been officially resumed by the government. On 2 December 1940 RAAF Headquarters was established at Bankstown and on 19 December No 2 Aircraft Park moved to Bankstown where it remained until 28 March 1945. Its facilities were then taken over by the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm.
When General MacArthur arrived in Australia, during World War II, Bankstown Airport was used by the United States Army Air Forces, and was established as a key strategic air base to support the war effort in 1942. It became home to members of the 35th Pursuit Group and the 49th Pursuit Group from 1942 to 1944. In 1945 operations became the responsibility of the British Fleet Air Arm, known as Royal Naval Air Station Bankstown, HMS Nabberley, before being handed back to the RAAF on 31 July 1946.
During the war, several "dummy houses" were built to make Bankstown Airport and its surrounds appear as a farm, hangars were disguised as houses with fake roads to further confuse the enemy. There was a command post on Black Charlies Hill, also known as the Bankstown Bunker, or No. 1 Fighter Sector RAAF. The airport had gun pits located within and around its perimeter to protect it from air attack. Part of its defences included an anti-aircraft battery situated on the corner of Bexley Road and Homer Street, Kingsgrove to help protect the approaches to the airport. After the war it was considered as an international airport terminal but certain limitations made it unsuitable for this purpose.
Aircraft manufacturer de Havilland Australia (later Hawker de Havilland) commenced production of their first fully manufactured aircraft at Bankstown Airport during WWII, which were DH-82 Tiger Moth primary trainers.No. 2 Aircraft Park RAAF
No. 451 Squadron RAAF
4th Fighter Squadron of 35th Pursuit Group
39th Fighter Squadron of 35th Pursuit Group
41st Fighter Squadron of 35th Pursuit Group
7th Fighter Squadron of 49th Pursuit
Royal Naval Air Station Bankstown, HMS Nabberley
In 1970 the government put forth a proposal to expand the airport's operations but this was vigorously opposed by the local community.
Today, Bankstown Airport is Sydney's primary general aviation airport, and also serves charter and cargo flights for various companies and carriers.
The airport's master plan was approved in March 2005 by the Minister for Transport and Regional Services. The plan governs the airport's operations until 2024–25. The current approved Airport Environment Strategy is valid for five years until 2015, it outlines management plans for specific ground-based environmental issues.
The airport, the Anglican school Georges River Grammar and the neighbouring Georges River Golf Course together form a suburb which is usually referred to as Bankstown Airport, although the official name is Bankstown Aerodrome. The suburb is part of the Canterbury-Bankstown Local Government Area and shares the postcode 2200 with its eastern neighbour, Condell Park.
The airport has three parallel runways. The primary runway (11C/29C) is 1,416 m × 30 m (4,646 ft × 98 ft). Bankstown has its own dedicated air traffic control tower, operated by Airservices Australia, and uses Class D airspace procedures.
The existing small passenger terminal at the airport is capable of handling up to 200 passengers per hour. Vehicle parking is available at no charge. Arriving passengers can arrange for taxi pick up at the terminal. The main airport entrance is also serviced by a local bus service to Bankstown railway station.
The terminal plays host to numerous events year round such as the annual Sydney Aviation Model Show.
Airly, a membership-based private travel provider, intends to commence operations in 2017. It is to offer flights to Canberra Airport and Melbourne's Essendon Airport for paying members, operating Beechcraft King Air 350s and a Bombardier Learjet 45 under another company's air operator's certificate. Airly plans to initially provide 54 flights per week.
The following organisations have operating bases at Bankstown Airport:New South Wales Ambulance
New South Wales Police Aviation Support Branch
Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia
The Australian Aviation Museum was located at Bankstown Airport when the museum opened in February, 1994. However, it closed at Bankstown in 2016 and will reopen at the less busy Camden airport in early 2017.
One of its hangars was used for the filming of Top Gear Australia, however none of the track sections were filmed at Bankstown as it is too busy. They were predominantly filmed at Camden Airport which is far quieter. The apron area was used as a location for the short film Come Fly with Me in 2009.
The series 1 finale of the television series Hyde and Seek was filmed inside a hangar at the airport.