May 16, 2012

Speech at Commissioning Ceremony for new Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) MK8 Vehicles – Sydney Airport

We’ve come a long way since April 18, 1911 when Captain Joseph Hammond first flew a Bristol bi-plane over what now forms part of the airport’s east-west runway.

His plane weighed about 500kg.

The flight reached only 40 metres high and lasted for less than 10 minutes.

Today, the modern A380 weighs 560 tonnes, can carry more than 450 passengers and travels 15,000km in a single flight.

So it stands to reason that as aircraft have become more advanced, so too have the emergency vehicles that support them.

Today I am delighted to be here to launch into operation of these four high visibility, highly impressive fire rescue vehicles.

Valued at more than $1 million each, these Rosenbauer Mark Eights are the largest fire fighting vehicles in Australia.

It seems right then, that they will be servicing the busiest airport in Australia.

Fully loaded with their 10,000 litre capacity, they weigh 30 tonnes and can shoot water 80 metres in distance.

These vehicles form part of Airservices’ $124 million national investment in aviation rescue and fire fighting services.

In Sydney it follows other investments, such as the recently completed upgrade of the Fire Control Centre, modernising its communications with a digital system.

Airservices’ Aviation Rescue and Fire Fighting Service has been attending to safety since its establishment at Sydney Airport in 1955 – almost 60 years ago.

In the past year alone, it has responded to callouts for aircraft emergencies, medical assistance, fire alarms and motor vehicle accidents.

Often it does this in partnership with other emergency agencies such as Fire and Rescue NSW.

The recently released ‘Joint Study on Aviation Capacity for the Sydney Region’ emphasised what a critical piece of economic infrastructure this airport is, and will continue to be.

It pointed out that Sydney Airport will become busier and busier as use grows of newer aircraft such as the Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

It is vital that Sydney Airport is capable of servicing this demand with the most advanced rescue and fire fighting aviation equipment and services.

Before I leave the Joint Study on Aviation Capacity for the Sydney Region, I’d like to mention some immediate steps we announced in the recent Federal Budget to address the congestion issue.

  • We are doing a detailed economic, social and environmental investigation into the suitability of Wilton
  • We are making sure this airport invests in terminal, apron and taxiway improvements so that it can operate at maximum capacity
  • We are working with the NSW Government to meet projected demand on the road and rail networks servicing this airport.

We are also assessing the use of the Richmond RAAF base for some civilian operations.

The uncomfortable facts are that with no new airport, unmet demand for aviation in Sydney will cost the national economy $6 billion by 2060 with 77,900 jobs foregone across the country.

Back to our smart new rescue vehicles.

As this Government made clear in its Aviation White Paper, our top priority is safety.

We applaud Airservices’ continuing attention to our safety through its investments in new and upgraded infrastructure and services.

These benefit the aviation industry and us, the travelling public.

I’m thrilled therefore to officially launch these vehicles into service.

Thank you.