It might not have the internationally celebrated tourism reputation of Cairns and Port Douglas, but the city of Townsville still sits smack bang in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef coastline and is the gateway to the popular resort and residential community of Magnetic Island and the indigenous settlement of Palm Island.
Townsville airport thus accommodates a high volume of RPT and scenic charter traffic. However, it also has major military significance. RAAF Base Townsville plays an important role in our defence capability and is the well established home to army and air force personnel and aircraft involved in regular defence operations, exercises and training in Australia's north.
Due to prevailing winds, the most commonly used duty runway is R01, so expect a large number of civil and military aircraft approaching from the south, using the ILS approach for 01.
There can therefore be some delay in issuing a clearance for fixed-wing and helicopter traffic transiting the zone or inbound to land, particularly if inbound from the west. For this reason, make sure you have submitted a flight plan so that ATC can process your request as quickly as possible.
RWY 07 is commonly used for arrivals by light aircraft, particularly from the west and north. GA departures still tend to use RWY 01 due to its proximity to the GA parking areas.
The RAAF provides air traffic services at Townsville and will always try to meet the requests of civil aircraft if possible. If you are unsure of any procedures while operating in and around Townsville, contact ATC and ask for assistance. They will be more than happy to help you. ATC provides a flight information service, on Townsville Approach 126.8, under the class C control steps. Outside 36nm, this service is provided by Brisbane Centre, 120.55.
Military restricted airspace
As one of the Australian Defence Force’s most active training locations, there is a very extensive spread of military restricted airspace around Townsville. It is vital that you read your NOTAMs before operating in and around Townsville. Code TLX in the NAIPS system will display the status of all Townsville’s restricted areas. During exercise periods, pilots should check all AIP SUPs for any additional restricted airspace.
If you are planning on landing at Townsville or transiting through its airspace, then check out OnTrack on CASA’s website. It provides a detailed, step-by-step guide, with relevant images, of what to expect operating at Townsville.