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aviation

Nov 20, 2012

Sydney Harbour choppers: Good idea but silly PR?

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

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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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