revised March 2001
AIR TRANSPORT, SYDNEY.
Aircraft are the latest and greatest symbol of the machine
page 37 of the Transportation (October 1997) issue of "SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN"
is a graph
of projected per capita traffic volume. The graph is part
of an article by A.Schafer & D. Victor on "Global Mobility" and forecasts
that high speed transport will account for 41% of passenger miles in 2050,
25% in 2020, up from 3% in 1960 & 9% in 1990. High speed transport
is aircraft or very fast train.
In Sydney Australia there are complaints about aircraft
noise. Sydney airport is about five kilometers South of the city
center, and aircraft movements are inevitably over densely populated areas.
The federal government (which controls airports) has been rescheduling
flight corridors in a vain attempt to reduce complaints. The rapidly
growing "No Airports" movement fails to see the necessity of airports in
the Sydney Basin. The inhabitants of Badgery's Creek in Western Sydney
(where the government proposed to open a second airport) do not want an
airport either. Some of the people at the mining town of Lithgow
(about 100 kilometers west of Sydney, pop. about 30,000) have indicated
that they would welcome the noise & business that an airport would
bring. The intent of the Federal government to privatize Sydney airport
is cause for alarm, insofar as privatization will make it that much harder
and more expensive to relocate.
Below are catalogued the disadvantages of airports in
cities, and reasons for concentrating airports in remote locations.
FACTS ABOUT AIRPLANES.
Airplane (travel) spreads disease. The first defense
against the expected pandemics of the third millennium should be restrictions
on rapid international travel. Placing international airports in
remote areas would simplify any human quarantine procedures found necessary.
Animal quarantine procedures could also be simplified.
Aircraft are beginning to regularly fly into the ground near
airports. The probability of a serious incident can only increase
as time passes. It does not seem like a good idea to have densely populated
areas near airports.
Airports are unwelcome additions in any city. They
are noisy and smelly. They are an undoubted health hazard.
An Australian federal government that promised to move all commercial airports
out of the Sydney basin might well earn itself an extra handful of seats
in the Representatives & an extra seat in the Senate. Melbourne
people might well feel the same way.
International tourism would be only marginally affected if
airports were relocated to remote areas. One international airport
for South-eastern Australia near Parkes or Forbes NSW should suffice.
Forbes is probably near the centroid for population & distance for
Sydney, Melbourne Brisbane and Adelaide, and is sparsely settled and very
flat. Very fast (400 KPH) trains could travel across open plains
to deliver passengers within two or three hours to the major cities. Sightseeing
tourists could start their holiday in "outback" Australia.
Airplanes produce massive pollution and consume enormous
amounts of energy. Below I have used various sources to show that
airplanes consume about half as much energy as is used to provide the total
electricity budget for Australia.
engine (similar to a 747 engine) produces about 30 megawatts.(1 HP = 746
Per capita Australian consumption of electricity was 8901
kWh p/a (for 1996) which is (divide by 365.25 & then divide by 24)
about 1015 watts per person averaged continuously.
Maximum electricity generating capacity in Australia (1994)
Sydney has a population of about 3,750,000
and Australia has about 18,500,000.(1997)
According to the Australian
Bureau of Statistics on domestic airlines aircraft movements in Australia
there are more than 500,000 aircraft movements and more than 450,000 hours
are flown per annum.
There are about 80,000 international
aircraft movements each year. Since any overseas flight is 2
hours, and most are 6 hours, this counts as about 200,000* aircraft hours
per annum in mostly big (4 engines) aircraft.
*half of 5 hrs*80,000 flights
DEDUCTIONS FROM THE FACTS.
A four engined jetliner operating continuously could produce
120 MW which is as much power as would be used by 130,000 people.
Thirty-two four engined airplanes operating continuously
could produce sufficient electricity to power Sydney.
Three-hundred-twenty-four (324) four engined airplanes could
supply the maximum power load for Australia.
One hundred and fifty four (154) four engined airplanes could
produce enough energy (averaged) to power Australia.
Australia has fifty one domestic airplanes in the air continuously.(divide
450,000 by the number of hours in a year = 365*24).
Australia is responsible for twenty-two international airplanes
being in the air continuously.(divide 200,000 by the number of hours in
a year = 365*24).
The conclusion? Airplanes
produce more than a quarter of the pollution that is produced by electricity
generation in Australia. The actual pollution is probably closer
to one half, because power stations are comparatively clean. And
unlike power stations, most of that pollution is right in our centers of
I have used the maximum power figure (30 MW) of the RB211.
However since flights average 54 minutes I believe that this is not too
Regional aircraft movements were not included.
Aircraft probably produce more pollution per output joule
than coal fired power stations.
Consequently the "deductions" could have errors, but are
I believe within an order of magnitude of the actuality. I would
appreciate it if anyone who found errors or disagrees with my assumptions
reported them to me.
Much of the data is from the CIA. The CIA seems to
be moving & changing it's html pages. This makes the task
of keeping up-to-date data & links challenging. I apologize for damaged
Suggested solution? Use suitable
tax breaks, and initiate a Very Fast Train project linking Melbourne, Adelaide,
Brisbane & Sydney to an International airport in Central NSW.
Turn existing city airports into parks. Australia could probably
manage with two international airports, one about central NSW (near Condobolin),
the other at a suitable distance from Perth. Intranational flights
should be limited to between towns with small populations.
1998 version of this page
Created October 1997
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