Between 2012 and 2016, some 179 wake turbulence incidents were reported to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB). According to a newly released ATSB study, 78 (or nearly 44 percent) of these incidents occurred at Sydney Airport.
In addition to the airport’s high proportion of these events, seven of the eight minor injuries reported as a result of a wake turbulence encounter were at Sydney. Further, when compared with the combined data from other major Australian airports (Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, and Perth), at Sydney Airport, an aircraft was more likely to have a missed approach or go‑around, a ground proximity alert, or have control issues following a wake turbulence encounter.
Sydney Airport is the only major Australian airport currently with parallel runways. More than half of the wake turbulence occurrences during arrival at Sydney Airport were associated with one or more of three factors: high arrival densities across the parallel runway; wind blowing across the parallel runways from the longer to the shorter runway, especially when a heavy or super heavy aircraft was arriving on the longer runway; and arrivals following an Airbus A380.
Airservices Australia will publish an Aeronautical Information Circular (AIC) that will advise operators of the injuries associated with wake turbulence for Runway 34R and will recommend that cabin crew should be seated and secured in the earlier part of the approach. Airservices will also implement several ATC measures to reduce the frequency of wake turbulence occurrence at Sydney Airport, including increasing separation distances for arrivals from four nm to five nm on Runways 16L/R and 34L/R.