Airspace protection for Western Sydney Airport

Protecting airspace

Protecting immediate airspace around airports is essential to ensuring and maintaining a safe operating environment and to provide for future growth. Planning restrictions currently in place around the Western Sydney Airport site at Badgerys Creek have protected the area from encroaching development on the ground.

Obstacle Limitation Surface (OLS)

The protected airspace is known as the Obstacle Limitation Surface (OLS) and was declared on 19 October 2017 under the provisions of the Airports Act 1996 (Cth) and Airports (Protection of Airspace) Regulations 2017.

The OLS declaration balances the need to ensure a safe operating environment for aircraft with the community’s need for clarity about development surrounding the airport. It is important to note that development may still be allowed within the OLS airspace. The purpose of the OLS is to ensure that development within the OLS area is examined for its impact on future aircraft operations and that it is properly taken into account.

What the OLS does

The OLS has been designed according to standard criteria set by the International Civil Aviation Organization and Civil Aviation Safety Authority. The OLS is designed to protect aircraft flying in visual conditions in close proximity to the airport. It does not reflect the final flight paths for the airport.

The OLS is the airspace above a set of modelled surfaces for the future approach and departure flight paths for the confirmed Stage 1 (northern) and proposed long-term (southern) runways. The surfaces of the OLS extend outward and upward, from ground level at the location of the proposed runways, to a distance of 15 kilometres from the Western Sydney Airport site.

Read more about the OLS

Understanding the protected airspace for Western Sydney Airport PDF: 443 KB ReadSpeaker provides an overview of the technical features of the OLS as well as pictures that show how it works.

Development in the Obstacle Limitation Surface PDF: 213 KB ReadSpeaker explains how building and development surrounding the Western Sydney Airport site may have an effect on the OLS, and outlines the kinds of development activities which may also interact with the OLS. It also gives information on whether you need to apply to the Department to carry out certain types of development.

The OLS online tool is an online map that allows you to search your address and find out the height of the protected airspace above your property.

The Western Sydney Airport OLS chart PDF: 4704 KB ReadSpeaker is a map of the OLS area around the airport.

You can also read more about how airspace protection works at other airports in Australia on the Department’s website.

The OLS and final flight paths

The OLS is designed to protect aircraft flying in visual conditions in close proximity to the airport. The shape of airspace protected by the OLS has been designed in strict accordance to international standards that are based on criteria such as runway direction and elevation, and should not be used to anticipate the design of future flight paths.

Designing and finalising flight paths is a large and complex task that takes several years to complete. Before the opening of the proposed Western Sydney Airport, a comprehensive airspace planning and design process will be undertaken, with ongoing community consultation and a focus on minimising flights over residential areas. You can read further information on the flight path design process on the Forum On Western Sydney Airport page.