Seaplane lands on Lake Burley Griffin

Media type
Date of Publication
14 December 2020


Update 27 January 2021

The consultation report is currently being written and it’s anticipated that public consultation would open in the next couple of months. Please keep an eye on this page for further updates.

Update 15 December 2020

Today’s media call after the demonstration flight of  Sydney Seaplanes.


Seaplane demonstration
Seaplane demonstration

L-R   NCA Chair, Terry Weber; Senator Zed Seselja; Sydney Seaplanes CEO, Aaron Shaw and NCA Chief Executive, Sally Barnes after the landing of the demonstration flight.

Seaplane demonstration

TOMORROW marks a significant occasion and one for the National Capital’s history books when a seaplane arrives from Rose Bay, Sydney Harbour to Lake Burley Griffin, Canberra for the first time.

The coordinated demonstration of a Seaplane landing on Lake Burley Griffin will help the National Capital Authority (NCA) assess the impact of a landing and a take-off of a seaplane on Lake Burley Griffin. This is the first step in the process that will determine if a seaplane commuter route between Canberra and Sydney is a viable one. 

The seaplane will arrive on Lake Burley Griffin at approximately 11 am, Tuesday 15 December, near Acton Peninsula (exact landing location is wind and weather dependant). The seaplane will be moored at Yarralumla Bay, take-off is scheduled for 12 pm.

The NCA as the regulatory agency for the proposal will need to fully assess the proposal by Sydney Seaplanes including but not limited to, environmental considerations/assurances, noise monitoring, infrastructure considerations and a comprehensive community consultation period allowing the Nation to have their say on the proposal.

Q and A’s

Q - What type of Plane will be landing and what’s its capacity?
A - The seaplane that landed for the demonstration is an Amphibious Cessna Caravan it has a seating capacity of 10 people.

Q – What happens after this demonstration?
A -   There will be a seaplane demonstration at 11am (time) on Tuesday 15 December so that everyone can see a seaplane land and takeoff  - connecting Canberra to Sydney and return.  Following on from the demonstration, there will be broad community consultation to garner people’s views on the proposal.

Q - What timelines are we looking at from demonstration to a trial period?
A - Anticipate trial of the commercial services by Quarter Three 2021 following the community consultation and engagement process undertaken by the NCA.

Q – What’s the background to this demonstration?
A - In June 2020 the National Capital Authority (NCA) Board received a presentation and proposal from Sydney Seaplanes (SSP) to operate three return commuter air service flights per day between Sydney to Canberra.

The proposal envisages two take offs and landings each day on Lake Burley Griffin (LBG) and a single take-off and landing from Canberra airport.

SSP have advised the NCA that they wish to establish a regional air transport network. SSP envisage the Sydney - Canberra flight as an initial offering.

The NCA Board discussed the proposition and agreed to further explore the proposal. 

Q – What is NCA’s role within this?
A – NCA is responsible for the management of National Land in the ACT under the Australian Capital Territory (Planning and Land Management) Act 1988

Under Section 33 of the Lakes Ordinance 1976, subject to the NCA’s approval, a person may undertake commercial activities such as that proposed by Sydney Seaplanes (SSP) on LBG.

Q – What will happen if people are concerned with aircraft landing on the Lake?
A - The NCA considers that an effective way to test the impact of a seaplane in the first instance is for a demonstration flight to be undertaken, with appropriate risk mitigation and assessment framework and environmental controls in place. The NCA intends to undertake further community consultation prior to a decision being made on any future flights.

Q – Who have you contacted to talk this through – what stakeholders have you contacted?
A – This a demonstration flight only.

In the lead up to the announcement last week, we have tested the regulatory environment with key organisations including Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Australian Maritime Safety Authority, the Australian Federal Police and Air Services Australia.  There are no regulatory impediments for the demonstration flight or a new permanent air service.

We have contacted key stakeholders including the ACT Government, Canberra Airport, AIATSIS and the National Museum of Australia. We have alerted the Lake User Group and others to the demonstration.

Q – What if people are unhappy with the noise of the seaplane during the demonstration flight?
A -  The ACT EPA (Environment Protection Authority) has confirmed that aircraft are exempt from any regulation in the ACT.

But we will listen to  community concerns should they be raised,  over noise during the consultation period and take that into account as we finalise considerations for possible permanent arrangements.

Q – What areas of assessment will be measured?
A – The demonstration flight should alert us to any potential impacts on public safety, the lake environment, water quality, fauna, heritage and infrastructure that require more in-depth consideration.

Community consultation will be undertaken to allow the NCA to listen to any concerns of local residents, lake users or nearby national cultural institutions that can then be explored through the licence application process.

Q – What are the next steps for SSP to start commercial flights and when?
A - Following the demonstration flight and community consultation, an assessment report will be prepared and submitted to the NCA Board for final consideration. If supported by the Board, SSP would be invited to submit an application for assessment by the NCA, under section 33 of the Lakes Ordinance 1976, to undertake commercial activities on Lake Burley Griffin.


Sydney Seaplanes - Approach and Departure paths 1
Sydney Seaplanes - Approach and Departure paths 1


Sydney Seaplanes - Approach and Departure paths 2
Sydney Seaplanes - Approach and Departure paths 2