Forum On Western Sydney Airport

The Australian Government will retain responsibility for delivering the airspace and flight path design for the Stage 1 development (a single runway) of the Western Sydney Airport. The Forum On Western Sydney Airport (FOWSA) will be the main community consultation group on the Western Sydney Airport project for the flight path design process. FOWSA will play an important role in this process and will ensure the views of the community are taken into account.

Function and role

The establishment of FOWSA is a key condition in the Western Sydney Airport Plan. The function of FOWSA will be to promote informed and responsive engagement between the community and representatives of an Expert Steering Group to be led by the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development (the Department). It will be the forum where community members and organisations can raise issues and express opinions regarding the planning and development of the Western Sydney Airport, in particular the airspace and flight path design process.

For more information about the role, structure and governance of FOWSA, read the Terms of Reference PDF: 236 KB ReadSpeaker.


The Australian Government is calling for nominations for FOWSA. The Hon Paul Fletcher MP, Minister for Urban Infrastructure, has approached Western Sydney Members of Parliament and councils in order to seek nominations for FOWSA. In addition, anyone with experience or background that would contribute effectively to the work of FOWSA can express their interest by emailing by Tuesday 24 January 2017.

In accordance with the Terms of Reference, membership will comprise:

  • up to eight community representatives;
  • up to five local government representatives;
  • one representative from the New South Wales Government;
  • one representative of regional airport operators;
  • one representative of general aviation users;
  • up to two representatives of the major airlines;
  • up to two representatives of a stakeholder agency or organisation, such as a tourism or business body; and
  • an independent chair.

Officers from the Department, Airservices Australia and the airport operator (once appointed) will also be involved with FOWSA in an advisory capacity.

It is anticipated that the Minister for Urban Infrastructure will announce the membership of FOWSA in the first half of 2017 once nominations have been made.

Flight path design process

The creation and implementation of FOWSA will be the first important step in commencing the flight path design process. This process is a large and complex task which will take several years to complete. In designing the flight paths, certain key principles will apply, such as:

  • avoiding overflights of residential areas and noise-sensitive facilities as much as possible;
  • ensuring aircraft arrivals will not converge through a single merge point over any single residential area;
  • using head-to-head operations to and from the south-west, when it is safe to do so, in order to manage aircraft noise at night; and
  • consulting the community, aerodrome operators and airspace users extensively before referring the final flight path designs to the Environment Minister under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.


The flight path design process covers four main phases:

  1. Planning (approximately 2 years);
  2. Preliminary design and environmental assessment (approximately 3 years);
  3. Detailed design (approximately 1 year); and
  4. Implementation (approximately 2 years).

Community consultation will be ongoing, with extensive opportunities for comment in the first two phases. This will lead to the preferred airspace design being referred to the Environment Minister under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999.

More information on the flight path design process is available on the factsheet Flight paths for Western Sydney Airport.