The southern hemisphere’s proposed tallest tower may have to go back to the drawing board if negotiations for changing the flight path for light planes using Essendon Airport fall through.
Approved by state Planning Minister Matthew Guy two weeks ago, Australia 108 may have to be shorn from its proposed height of 388 metres to 375 metres, unless discussions with federal aviation authorities can offer an alternative.
Reports suggest the tower’s current proposed height will infringe federal regulations protecting aircraft safety.
Rules for airport approach and departure procedures – known as PANS-OPS – which allow aircraft to fly safely in and out of airports are set by international agreement.
Mr Guy told media this week that he understood all relevant approvals had been sought and given to the project. The minister drew a comparison with Sydney’s tallest building – the 309 metre Sydney Tower, which itself extends into Sydney Airport’s PANS-OPS airspace.
Essendon Airport’s arrival plans show plane routes directly above Melbourne’s CBD some 13 kms from its runway.
The southerly approach involves a 373 metre high limit to any potential obstruction, which extends 15 kilometres from the airport.
Australia 108 – set to rise 388 metres above Southbank Boulevard – is currently within the flight path ‘envelope’ by 13 metres and will require approval by the Federal Department of Infrastructure and Transport and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
The department told Fairfax Media this week that no approval had been sought or given from the Commonwealth.
Australia 108’s architect Nonda Katsalidis says whatever adjustments may be required, the flight path issue is not a deal-breaker.
“It won’t be a problem. We can easily draw up a technical solution if we are required to,” Katsalidis told Neos Kosmos.
“These types of buildings need a lot of input, and we’re still at the beginning of the process. If it needs adjusting we will.”
The architect stressed that any such change would be minimal and would not affect the number or dimension of Australia 108’s internal spaces.
“We hope to find a solution to this by negotiation, we did the same thing with Eureka where we incorporated warning lights. It took a long time but we got there in the end.”
The $600 million Australia 108 project is backed by six investors including Nonda Katsalidis and Benni Aroni, two of the main players behind the Eureka Tower development.