The Australian Feature: Weighty Win for Essendon Airport

by Robyn Ironside Published in The Australian December 13, 2018

A change in federal government regulation is set to cement Essendon Fields Airport as Australia’s corporate jet capital.

From today, the airport will be able to accommodate private jets up to 50 tonnes, five tonnes more than the previous limit. It’s a significant win for Essendon Fields, which acts as a base for 65 corporate jets, up from only nine in 2000.

Chief executive Chris Cowan said the airport was now well positioned to accommodate the latest corporate jets, which were larger, heavier and faster.

“Business aviation is all about ‘fly anywhere, any time’. The passengers are time-poor, they’re businesspeople and they need to get away fast,” Mr Cowan said.
“The new bigger jets, like Bombardier’s Global 7500, has a wingspan of 34m. It doesn’t necessarily carry more passengers but it has better performance and range so it can fly further and get up in the air quicker.”

With a range of 14,260km, the Global 7500 can fly further than a Boeing 777-200 or 747-400, and seats up to 19 passengers.

The airport’s first customer to benefit from the regulation change, a Gulfstream G650, will undergo maintenance at Essendon Fields this month. The G650 has a slightly smaller range than the Global 7500 at 12,964km, but the same 19-passenger capacity.

“The G650 and Global 7500 are cutting-edge aircraft,” Mr Cowan said. “Because their performance is better, they use less runway on takeoff and landing. They can land in less than 1000m, they’re pretty amazing.”

Transport Minister Michael McCormack said the weight increase would cement Essendon Fields’ place as one of Australia’s major regional and corporate jet airports.

On the subject of those operating the jets, Mr Cowan said the business aviation industry demanded a high level of discretion,

“They’re business executives, captains of industry, so to speak,” he said. “There’s a close association between successful companies and successful people and business jets.”

As the operator of Platinum Business Aviation, based at Essendon Fields, former world motorcycle champion Mick Doohan welcomed the weight increase.

He said being able to land the latest generation of corporate aircraft within 10 minutes of the City of Melbourne would assist in attracting more foreign investment to Victoria.

“Current owners of corporate aircraft based at Essendon Fields will now have the option to upgrade their fleet to these ultra long-range efficient aircraft,” Mr Doohan said.