Australian Grand Prix 2023: Business Aviation Planning Guide

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The Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix takes place March 30 – April 2, 2023 at the Albert Park street circuit a few miles south of central Melbourne. For general aviation (GA) operators planning to attend this event or traveling to Melbourne during this time, it’s important to consider aircraft parking and crew accommodation options as early as possible.

The following is an overview of what you need to know:


About the Race

The Albert Park Circuit is a motorsport street circuit around Albert Park Lake, three kilometres south of central Melbourne.

The Australian Grand Prix is an annual Formula One race held in Melbourne, Australia, and is typically one of the first races of the season. The race attracts thousands of fans and top racing teams from around the world and is known for its exciting racing and festive atmosphere.

The race features high-speed straights, tight corners, and challenging braking zones. In addition to the race, the Australian Grand Prix features a range of entertainment and cultural events, including concerts, art exhibits, and food and wine festivals.


Primary airports

There are two primary airports to consider for those planning to attend the Melbourne Grand Prix or just traveling to Melbourne during this time – Melbourne (YMML) and Essendon (YMEN).


Melbourne YMML

Melbourne YMML is the main international field and commercial airport. It is approximately 14 miles and 25 minutes from downtown Melbourne and Albert Park. YMML is a 24-hour airport of entry (AOE). YMML does have more delay potential than YMEN.

Slots and PPR are not required.

There are no FBO facilities available at YMML. It has an 11,998-foot runway.

The advantages of landing here are that the airport and CIQ operate 24/7, no airport slots are required, and contract fuel pricing is often better than at Melbourne Essendon (YMEN).

In the event parking is not available, the closest alternate is YMEN.


Melbourne Essendon (YMEN)

View of Melbourne skyline from Essendon

Essendon is located 7.8 miles and 30 minutes to downtown Melbourne. It is primarily a domestic airport. CIQ clearance for international flights can be arranged, but at the discretion of local customs and immigration authorities. If approved, CIQ officers will need to drive out from YMML to handle the flight. If it’s not possible to set up CIQ clearance for your intended schedule to YMEN, you’ll need to operate to YMML.

Note that runway length is 6,302 feet at YMEN.

GA parking is usually less expensive at YMEN, but there’s a 110,231 LBS (50,000 KGS) MTOW limitation for operations to this airfield. It’s also important to keep in mind that YMEN has an operating curfew in place between 2300 and 0600 local, and no exceptions to this are possible.

Parking availability is very good and rarely runs out.


Alternate Airport

Should aircraft parking be an issue at YMML and YMEN, a good parking alternate to consider is Avalon (YMAV). As this is a domestic-only airport, international arrivals first need to land at an AOE for CIQ processing prior to proceeding to YMAV. YMAV is a 24-hour airport with long runways and plenty of parking available. As YMAV is a less busy location than either YMML or YMEN, air and ground congestion issues are not a factor. Drive time to central Melbourne is about 50-60 minutes.


Landing Permits

Private non-revenue flights do not require landing permits for Australia. However, all revenue charter (non-scheduled commercial) operations must obtain non-scheduled flight permission. While this is not a traditional landing permit, it does involve submitting information and documentation to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) in order to ensure that charter operators comply with all applicable requirements. In addition, charter and high-frequency private operators must also fill out a 094 document from CASA and submit an application for a Transportation Safety Program (TSP). Note that a TSP application typically takes a minimum of 60 days to process.


Permit Requirements

Lead time to obtain non-scheduled flight permission for Australia is a minimum of five business days. Operators will need to provide CASA with:

  • airworthiness and registration certificates
  • noise certificate
  • a certified copy of the company’s incorporation or registration, issued by the Registrar of Companies in the operator’s principle place of business

Note that CASA only operates Monday-Friday during normal business hours. For more information on Certificate of Incorporation requirements it’s recommended to talk with your 3rd-party provider.


Ground Support Services

YMML, YMEN and YMAV all offer full GA ground handling support and fuel uplift services. Credit arrangements can be made with prior notice for all services. Fuel cards are accepted for uplifts, but cash is not a preferred form of payment. For YMAV there are no fueling delays to consider. In the case of YMML and YMEN it’s always best to request fuel uplifts in advance. Though fuelers will know the average fuel uplift needs for the particular type of aircraft, it’s recommended that you specify volume requirements.


CIQ Clearance and Visas

CIQ processing for GA at Melbourne area airports is done in the main terminal. The local handler will escort passengers and crew through the clearance process, via a dedicated crew clearance line. Passengers do not have to stand in line with scheduled commercial arrivals. Note that Australia is very stringent on CIQ clearance procedures. Note that all crew and passengers need to hold appropriate visas prior to arrival. Many nationalities are able to obtain these visas online. If you are not eligible for the online visa, you will need to obtain it from an Australian embassy.


CIQ Considerations

Australian Customs and Border Protection at YMML now require a minimum 48 hours’ notice for all arrival requests and any itinerary changes of more than 30 minutes from previously approved times. To obtain Off Terminal Clearance (OTC) at YMEN, Australian Customs and Border Protection / Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry (DAFF) must be informed of the movements 10 days prior to arrival. A stamped general dec from the previous airport is always required for all international arrivals, and no exceptions to this are possible. On board CIQ clearance is subject to CIQ operational requirements and Australian law prohibits ground handlers from filling out any CIQ related forms on the operator’s behalf. In the event onboard CIQ is unavailable at YMML, Melbourne Jet Base has a dedicated and private onsite CIQ processing facility within their FBO.  Due to quarantine requirements all fresh and unprocessed food must be disposed of upon landing, unless prior arrangements with the Quarantine officer have been made.


Hotels and Local Transport

There’s a wide range of hotel accommodations available in the greater Melbourne area, including large international hotel chains. To secure preferred 4- and 5-star crew accommodations it’s best to request hotel rooms as soon as trip schedule is known. For local prepaid transport, a car with driver can be set up and rental vehicles can be arranged at all three Melbourne airports.


Conclusion

YMML is the primary airport for this event, as YMEN has restricted operating hours and YMAV is not an AOE. With over 85,000 sqm of apron and hangar space available, Melbourne Jet Base, located at YMML can provide ground handling services for aircraft up to an A380 during the Grand Prix time period. For those planning to attend this popular race event, the main concerns will be arranging crew accommodations and local transport.

 


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