Airspace Protection


The protection of the immediate airspace around airports is essential in ensuring and maintaining a safe operating environment and to provide for future growth. For this reason, it is necessary to restrict some types of development and land uses in the vicinity of airports. This is to guarantee that designated airspace segments remain obstacle-free, thereby contributing to the safety, efficiency and regularity of aircraft operations.

Since Sydney Airport is able to control on airport development activities, the primary focus of airspace protection is in off-airport areas and developments under the control of other authorities. Airspace protection therefore involves aspects of land use planning and development control, which need to be managed cooperatively with external responsible authorities.

The Obstacle Limitation Surfaces (OLS) are a series of surfaces in the airspace surrounding an airport. They are established in accordance with International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) specifications, as adopted by Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).

Australia is a signatory to the Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago 1944) from which the Manual of Standards Part 139 – Aerodromes (including OLS) was developed and subsequently adopted. The OLS defines the airspace to be protected for aircraft operating during the initial and final stages of flight, or maneuvering in the vicinity of the airport.

To protect these surfaces at Sydney Airport annual obstacle monitoring surveys are conducted and the results published via the Sydney Airport website. Daily obstacle monitoring is conducted by Airport Operations staff, in conjunction with approved building activities within the airport vicinity, to maintain the safety, efficiency and regularity of aircraft operations into and out of Sydney Airport.