Avoiding Issues with Sydney International Airport (YSSY) Operational Curfews
Recent advice from the Australian Department of Infrastructure and Transport has highlighted a new interpretation of Sydney (YSSY) curfew regulations and how they apply to private non-revenue and General Aviation (GA). The consequences for not understanding and conforming to these regulations can involve fines of up to 850,000 AUD (≈$870,000 USD). Several business aviation operators have been issued infringement notices over recent weeks. Being "unaware" of the regulations is not considered a valid excuse. Here is what you need to know:
1. Be aware of curfew restrictions at Sydney
To those unfamiliar with YSSY, in an effort to reduce noise, the airport is subject to an operational curfew between 2300 and 0600 local. However, many GA aircraft enjoy dispensation, allowing them to operate during this period. A list of aircraft eligible for dispensation is readily available from your YSSY ground handler and is primarily limited to aircraft with operating weights at or below 34,000 kg. This list was compiled by the Department of Infrastructure and Transport after review of a number of eligible criteria, including certified noise ratings.
2. New regulatory interpretations are in effect
In recent weeks, the Department of Infrastructure and Transport has advised that authorities intend to pursue and enforce new regulatory interpretations. Aircraft seeking to operate to/from Sydney during curfew hours must be at or below 34,000 kg at point of departure. Specifically, with respect to aircraft traveling to Sydney, that means that operating weight is restricted to 34,000 kg at the port of origin on the last non-stop sector into Sydney. Current restrictions can be found on pages 2, 3 and 4 of the YSSY Departure and Approach Procedures. It’s recommended that operators work with their 3rd-party provider and/or ground handler to ensure they’re operating under current regulations and interpretations.
3. Know the potential for problems
The new interpretations are potentially problematic for operators that, for example, regularly fly from Honolulu (PHNL) to YSSY directly. Arriving/departing during curfew is now operationally unlikely, due to the weight restriction and subsequent limitation on fuel to be carried, which significantly reduces an aircraft’s operational range in practical terms. New regulatory interpretations for YSSY should be of considerable interest and concern for operators of such long-range equipment as Gulfstream IVs and Vs and all models of the Bombardier Global Express. Breaches of regulations can result in financial penalties of up to 850,000 AUD.
4. Penalties may be applied retroactively
Since 2005, the department has had the power to apply current interpretations of the Sydney Airport Curfew Act. However, after recent events and discussions with operators over potential breaches, the department has determined to apply new interpretations to the existing regulations. Unfortunately, authorities are now investigating a number of GA movements from as far back as the middle of last year but could be extended to further, and it’s possible that they may begin to apply penalties retroactively. Over recent weeks, based on new regulatory interpretations, we’re aware of retroactive action being taken, and several operators have been issued infringement notices.
5. Take advantage of ground handler resources
While new regulatory interpretations at YSSY require careful consideration, that should not discourage operators from flying to and from Australia. Ground handlers are well versed in local procedures and regulatory issues and are ready to assist in facilitating smooth and seamless trips.
YSSY’s operating curfew and regulations about who may operate during those hours can be confusing. It’s best to talk with your ground handler or 3rd-party provider prior to any planned operation to YSSY during curfew hours. If you’re not an exempt aircraft and land at YSSY during curfew hours, you may be subject to considerable fines under new interpretations of local regulations.
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