Brisbane’s Metropolitan Airport

Archerfield Airport

“We’re getting around 150,000 movements per year,” says Corrie Metz, General Manager of Archerfield Airport. Second to the major international Brisbane Airport, Archerfield (ICAO: YBAF – 27°34′13″S 153°00′29″E) is only 11 kilometres southwest of Brisbane’s Central Business District, a view Mr Metz can see from his office window.

Conveniently located near Brisbane’s CBD with the Ipswich Motorway only 100 metres away, Archerfield Airport is nearby other major roads and rail links and in close proximity to Stradbroke, Moreton, and Fraser islands. Its position in the southwest industrial gateway and highly accessible location helps to make it a favourite airport for corporate aircraft, charters, flying training, many types of maintenance requirements, and emergency services.

“Archerfield is mainly a general aviation airport, and we have some of the emergency services based here, like Emergency Management Queensland,” explains Mr Metz. “They were heavily involved during the 2011 flood relief effort, spearheading the rescue effort with their special capability helicopters.” Along with Emergency Management Queensland other essential services – including the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service – are based out of Archerfield, and regularly bring in helicopters during the fire season.

Although no airlines or regular passenger planes fly out of Archerfield, the airport is a popular location for flight instruction, helicopter training, and a considerable amount of Fly-in-Fly-Out (FIFO) work, carrying workers to and from many of Queensland’s mine sites. “We have a lot of FIFO charter work to the mines from here, and I see that as being a large growth area,” states Mr Metz. “We are seeing growth and more regular charters in that area.”

Airports Undergoing Change

Across Australia, many of the nation’s airports have been undergoing significant change for several years, and Archerfield is no exception. As one of a number of major Australian Airports to be operated under the Australian Airports Act (1996), the airfield has been operated and managed by the Archerfield Airport Corporation (AAC) since June of 1998, when it became privatised. Formerly owned by the Federal Government, it is leased for 49 years, with a 50-year option. Today, Archerfield remains one of 21 federally leased airports. “Even Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne airports are federally leased,” explains Mr Metz.

As General Manager of Archerfield Airport for the past three years, Mr Metz and the AAC are firmly committed to the long-term success and development of Archerfield Airport as a significant aviation facility serving southeast Queensland. With the goal of nurturing Archerfield and helping the airport to realise its full, dynamic potential as a superior aviation destination, Mr Metz is a perfect choice to lead Archerfield into the future. With a 39-year career in the air force as an aviator, his considerable experience includes managing bases, developing expeditionary capabilities, and setting up airfields around the globe.

Over the years, Archerfield Airport has held a place in the hearts of many Queenslanders, and has played a prominent role in the area’s history. Due to flooding at Eagle Farm, Archerfield became Brisbane’s main airport between 1931 and 1949 and handled international flights along with Qantas mail runs to Singapore and the United Kingdom. In addition to the Royal Australian Air Force being based there, during the war so were the Americans, British, and the Dutch. Even legendary General of the Army and field marshal Douglas MacArthur – known for his role as Chief of Staff of the United States Army during the 1930s and his achievements in the Pacific theatre during World War II – flew out of Archerfield.

Looking Ahead: 2011-31 Master Plan

On May 24th of last year, the Honourable Anthony Albanese, MP and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, approved the 20-year Archerfield Airport Master Plan 2011-31. In addition to replacing aging infrastructure – some of it dating back to the Second World War – there are plans to re-work the existing runways. In addition to helipads and hangars, Archerfield Airport has a multi-runway configuration, with two parallel runways running in two different directions. Parallel 28/10 runways and their complementing full-length taxiways have sealed pavements, while the main runway, 28R/10L and its supporting taxiway, are both equipped with pilot activated lighting to aid night time flying. The 04/22 crosswind parallel runways and taxiways have sealed runway thresholds.

With a sealed airstrip 1,481 metres long and 30 metres wide, the airport is restricted in the size of aircraft it can handle. Having nine strips at one point decades ago, Archerfield today has four: two sealed runways, and two grass runways. Under the approved Master Plan, there will be provisions made for the realignment of the grass runways, moving them away from low lying, flood-prone areas and improving the airport’s capability to provide world-class training facilities.

“If we realign the grass runways, that will certainly open up a large strip of about 500 metres adjacent to our main runway whereby I can put up more hangars, so that is also one of the big reasons for going through this realignment process,” says Mr Metz. Prior to re-aligning its grass runways, the airport will need to go through a major development plan, which will make provisions for modern facilities and account for the anticipated growth of aviation at Archerfield in the coming years.

With about 68 hangars at present, a corporate hangar with four bays, and a number of businesses on site, redevelopment would enable growth and provide many opportunities for aviation and non-aviation businesses to relocate their operations to the heart of Brisbane’s much sought-after South West Industrial Gateway.

“In line with previous Archerfield Airport Master Plans, the 2011-31 Plan continues to make provisions for the introduction of Regular Passenger Transport (RPT) services should the community want them in the future,” said Mr Metz in a statement. “It is anticipated that aircraft capable of carrying up to 80 passengers may operate from the airport up to 24 times per day (12 arrivals and 12 departures). Archerfield Airport Corporation has made a commitment in the Plan to consult further with the public before permitting the introduction of such services.”

However, a group called the Archerfield Airport Chamber of Commerce Incorporated has challenged the approval of the Master Plan through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, and Mr Metz believes any issues will be resolved in six to 12 months. In response, Archerfield Airport has joined the Minister. “Only we can speak to the technical issues of the plan,” comments Mr Metz. “The Minister can talk about the process, and how we’ve met all the legislation in approving the plan.”

It is believed that with Federal approval of the airport’s Master Plan 2011-31, Archerfield Airport will continue to grow and develop into a world-class aviation facility. At present, about 255 aircraft are based out of Archerfield, including flight schools and private flying. Under the Master Plan there will be more space to accommodate even more flights, with options for improvements to surrounding roads, addressing noise issues, providing airport protection and incorporating potential precinct layouts.

“I’d like to see this as a thriving airport, with improved facilities,” says Mr Metz, “and that’s what we’re aiming for over time.”

Making Sense of Management

Management is the art, or science, of getting things done through people. Sounds fairly straightforward – except for the fact that people are not robots waiting to do our bidding. People have their own minds, motivations, and goals. So how do managers keep operations – and the people behind them – running as planned?

December 19, 2018, 5:11 AM AEDT