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Sydney Harbour choppers: Good idea but silly PR?

The image of the Sydney Harbour heliport in the Telegraph this morning

It’s always disappointing to see a great idea let down by silly PR which is the case this morning with an announced floating helicopter base for Sydney Harbour.

The Daily Telegraph story is the best of the bunch, as it goes a bit beyond the puff piece that is in general circulation.

But what do we make of the illustration? How do helicopters get into the lower level of the structure, and assuming there is more to this, and there is space to actually get it under the decking, why would the operator bother with such a costly complication when it comes to some serious rules about safety, proximity to rotor breaking surfaces, and very rapid response fire suppression systems?

Just asking? It is a good idea, although location, and approach and departure SOPs will no doubt face some detailed regulatory approval processes.

The announcements read together tell us that there will be a straightforward barge used for initial flights from next month, and a more substantial floating structure from some time next year.

Nor do the comments by the operator about airport transfers make sense.  By the time you board the helicopter, fly to the harbour, then transfer from the mooring to your final destination, you are likely to be half an hour or 40 minutes later than you would have been by taxi, never mind the trains, which are disappointingly infrequent and often in a disgusting state.

Now if it is a deliberately scenic tour of the eastern suburbs beaches, and a flyover of say north head, and a leisurely approach to the harbour landing spot, that is another matter.  But not if you are going to a meeting.

In the later 70s this writer made several attempts to fly the advertised $25 Ansett helicopter transfer from Tullamarine to a landing pad beside the Yarra River near the bottom of William Street. But the service was never available on the times flown.

It used the same Ansett liveried helicopter that often flew Reg Ansett from his Mt Eliza mansion on the Mornington Peninsula to the city, although I’m not sure if it landed closer to his headquarters at the top of Swanston Street than the somewhat distant city pad offered to Ansett flyers on the off chance it seems that it would actually be free for a fare that was about the same as the fare of the day for Sydney-Melbourne.

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  • 1
    Treenan
    Posted November 20, 2012 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    I often used to use the Ansett helicopter. Excellent value, and it put me right where I wanted to be – in the CBD. The booking procedure was simple – ask a hostie on the MEL bound flight and she’d have the pilot radio the booking ahead.

    Some ten or so years ago, I bought a Bell 47J, and on perusal of the old logbooks, found to my pleasant surprise that it was the same helicopter.

  • 2
    Cat on a PC©
    Posted November 20, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think there was any other landing spot other than the pad on the Yarra. So Ansett would most likely have travelled the distance to HQ by car from the pad. Not a big deal in those days with the much lighter traffic.

    I believe the pad is now much further down the Yarra opposite Crown Casino and the approach from the east following the Yarra down between the skyscrapers on either side would be quite something. Reg however would have had to contend with some pretty ugly looking factories on the south side of the river in his days.

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    Justin Tanti
    Posted November 22, 2012 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    There are some major issues that have not been addressed in regards to this proposed Sydney Harbour Floating Heliport.
    It’s possibly the biggest mistake the deputy premier may ever make and a disaster waiting to happen for Sydney Tourism on the Harbour. The fact that so many govt bodies have jumped on the bandwagon defies belief and displays a complete and utter ignorance of reality and what the international and domestic tourist expect in regards to sustainable tourism and amenity for all, yes that includes non humans, like protected species.

    The constant drone of choppers taking off and landing at water level will kill Sydney Harbour. There are many in the helicopter community who see this as a disaster for the industry,with a belief that it will alienate millions of sydneysiders. The fact that the deputy premier who is is a national party member is trumpeting the management by a Newcastle heli company should be explored. Let alone no epbc approval, epa, environment and heritage approvals or council and resident consultation.

    I am also very concerned that the Office of Environment and Heritage can only respond to concerns if a development application is lodged for this Proposed floating heliport. Given that the deputy premier has press released his involvement already as a supporter of the proposed floating heliport and sasying it will be operating next month and has been approved. I have concerns that due process is not being observed. Has the dept of trade committed to funding this in any form without any external consultation with all Sydney Habour stakeholders?

    Also the pretext of the floating heliport being used for Sydney airport transfers is a joke. By the time potential customers make their way to the Sydney airport heliport from domestic or inter terminals and get on board a chopper, then fly in and then get a boat and then a taxi with their luggage, i mean really! This is simply a cover for high rotation Joy flights that will reverberate around the Harbour every day. Where’s the community consultation, where’s the EPA, where is the office of the environment? What involvement does the deputy premier have with these people from Newcastle and their company? As i have heard many helicopter companies have tried to do the same thing before and failed. Has appropriate development planning been deliberately avoided with the governments support to railroad this through.?

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