Bankstown Airport (IATA: BWUICAO: YSBK) is a general aviation airport and business park located in the City of Bankstown, 22 km (14 mi) from the central business district of Sydney, Australia. The airport is situated on 313 ha (770 acres) of land and has three parallel runways, several apron areas, a small passenger terminal and a business park, home to over 170 businesses.

Bankstown Airport operates 24 hours a day, with limitations placed on night circuit training. In the calendar year of 2011, Airservices Australia recorded 243,126 aircraft movements at the airport. This makes it the fourth busiest airport in Australia by number of movements, after Sydney, Moorabbin Airport and Jandakot.[2] Most of the traffic reported (208,226) is in the sub 7 tonnes light aircraft category. The airport is a major hub of Australian general aviation, is home to numerous fixed-wing and helicopter flying schools, charter operators, aircraft maintenance businesses, and private aircraft.


World War II

Bankstown Airport was originally planned in 1929. The plan to build an airport at Bankstown was put on hold until it was established in 1940, after the commencement of World War II when the Department of Civil Aviation attained 630 acres (2.5 km2) of land for development as a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) facility. The formal proclamation of the Bankstown airfield project occurred under the National Security Act on 7 June 1940. The urgency was such that work began immediately; the Act permitted construction to begin even before the land had been officially resumed by the government.[3] On 2 December 1940 RAAF Headquarters was established at Bankstown and on 19 December No 2 Aircraft Park moved to Bankstown where it remained until 28 March 1945. Its facilities were then taken over by the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm.[4]

When General MacArthur arrived in Australia, during World War II, Bankstown Airport was used by the United States Army Air Forces, and was established as a key strategic air base to support the war effort in 1942. It became home to members of the 35th Pursuit Group and the 49th Pursuit Group from 1942 to 1944. In 1945 operations became the responsibility of the British Fleet Air Arm, known as Royal Naval Air Station Bankstown, HMS Nabberley, before being handed back to the RAAF on 31 March 1946.

During the war, several "dummy houses" were built to make Bankstown Airport and its surrounds appear as a farm, hangars were disguised as houses with fake roads to further confuse the enemy. There was a command post on Black Charlies Hill, also known as the Bankstown Bunker, or No. 1 Fighter Sector RAAF. The airport had gun pits located within and around its perimeter to protect it from air attack. Part of its defences included an anti-aircraft battery situated on the corner of Bexley Road and Homer Street, Kingsgrove to help protect the approaches to the airport. After the war it was considered as an international airport terminal but certain limitations made it unsuitable for this purpose.

De Havilland Australia has been affiliated with the airport opening a factory at the airfield in 1942, occupying the area to the south of the runway.

Units based at Bankstown during World War II

Post War

In the late 1970s Hawker de Havilland relocated their Lidcombe plant to Bankstown Airport.

In 1970 the government put forth a proposal to expand the airport's operations but this was vigorously opposed by the local community.[6]


Idle planes at Bankstown Airport


The airport has three runways. The primary runway (11C/29C) is 1,416 m × 30 m (4,646 ft × 98 ft), is rated at 20 tonnes and limited at 50 tonnes MTOW.

Taxiways and aprons

Selective taxiways and aprons are rated at 20 tonnes and limited to 50 tonnes MTOW.


Runway 11C/29C has three stage, medium intensity edge lights and a Precision Approach Path Indicator or (PAPI).

Air traffic control

Bankstown has its own dedicated air traffic control tower, operated by Airservices Australia, and uses Class D airspace procedures. The operating hours for the tower are published in the Enroute Supplement (ERSA).


Runway 11C has a straight-in RNAV(GNSS) approach procedure. There is also a Radar Approach Procedure and a Non Directional Beacon (NDB) located at the airport.

Passenger facilities

A Weatherly 620B at Bankstown Airport

The existing small passenger terminal at the airport is capable of handling up to 200 passengers per hour. Vehicle parking is available at no charge. Arriving passengers can arrange for taxi pick up at the terminal. The main airport entrance is also serviced by a local bus service to Bankstown railway station.

The terminal plays host to numerous events year round such as the annual Sydney Aviation Model Show.[7]

Accidents and incidents

On 15 September 1982, a Douglas C-47 (c/n 6108, formerly registered VH-SBO), stored in the open, was damaged when the pilot of a light aircraft committed suicide by deliberately crashing it nearby. The C-47 was never repaired and was subsequently transferred to the airport fire dump.[8]

On 26 September 2011, a Cessna 152 registered VH-HCE and operated by Basair Pty Ltd experienced total power loss due to fuel contamination with water. On emergency landing the aircraft nosed-over. The instructor and student vacated the aircraft with no injuries.[9]

Master plan

RAAF CT4 trainers lined up on the tarmac at Bankstown awaiting the Pickles auction start. 36 of these aircraft went under the hammer in Sydney in 1993 following the closure of the No 1 Flying Training School at Point Cook in Victoria.

The airport's master plan was approved in March 2005 by the Minister for Transport and Regional Services. The plan governs the airport's operations until 2024–25. The current approved Airport Environment Strategy is valid for five years until 2015, it outlines management plans for specific ground-based environmental issues.

In Popular Culture

The airport offers a range of aviation and non-aviation settings with large hangars to accommodate grand scale indoor filming. Bankstown is home the majority of Sydney's executive jets and helicopters, as well as the Australian Aviation Museum which showcases a range of vintage aircraft. The site at Bankstown covers over 300 hectares with significant stretches of runways, tarmac, as well as wide and open spaces.

One of its hangars is being used for the filming of Top Gear Australia, however none of the track sections were filmed at Bankstown as it is too busy. They were predominantly filmed at nearby Camden Airport which is far quieter. The apron area was used as a location for the short film Come Fly with Me in 2009.[10]

Airport ownership

Bankstown Airport is owned by the Federal Government and leased by Bankstown Airport Limited, a subsidiary of BAC Airports Pty Limited, whose ultimate shareholders include JF Infrastructure, Colonial First State and Australian Super. BAC Airports also owns Camden Airport, another of the two general aviation airports in the Sydney basin. Bankstown Airport's business precincts are home to a large number of non-aviation businesses in addition to the many aviation related ones.


The airport, the Anglican school Georges River Grammar and the neighbouring Georges River Golf Course together form a suburb which is usually referred to as Bankstown Airport, although the official name is Bankstown Aerodrome. The suburb is part of the Bankstown local government area and shares the postcode 2200 with its eastern neighbour, Condell Park.


The Australian Aviation Museum is located at Bankstown Airport and was opened in February, 1994


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

  1. ^ YSBK – SYDNEY/Bankstown (PDF). AIP En Route Supplement from Airservices Australia, effective 29 May 2014
  2. ^ a b "Movements at Australian Airports" (PDF). Airservices Australia. 17 February 2012. Retrieved 8 May 2012. 
  3. ^ Mellor D P, Australia in the War of 1939-1945, Series 4 - Civil - Volume V - The Role of Science and Industry, Australian War Museum, Canberra, 1958, page 37ff
  4. ^ White, K, Brief History of RAAF Station,Bankstown NSW, Australian Aviation Museum, Bankstown, 2001, page 3
  5. ^ 7th Fighter Squadron
  6. ^ Maltby, Kathy; Rosen, Sue – Bankstown: Sense of Identity. From Settlement to City. Civic Tower 66–72 Rickard Road Bankstown: Bankstown City Council. p. 13.  Cite uses deprecated parameter |coauthors= (help)
  7. ^ Sydney Aviation Model Show
  8. ^ "VH-AEU, Douglas C-47-DL, c/n 6108". Retrieved 25 July 2010. 
  9. ^ "Investigation: AO-2011-118 - Total power loss - Cessna 152, VH-HCE, near Bankstown Airport, NSW, 26 September 2011". Retrieved 9 Sep 2012. 
  10. ^ . Skypac Retrieved 30 May 2014.  Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links

About Bankstown Airport-(IATA: BWU, ICAO: YSBK)


  • Visit: Website
  • Hours: 24 hours a day
  • Address: 3 Avro Street Bankstown Airport NSW 2200