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Cranes, Planes And Construction In The Sky

Crane presence is a helpful indicator of infrastructure and construction sector health, and is useful in determining activity levels for airport construction.

If you count the number of cranes in the sky, you can assess overall activity in the construction industry. That is the idea behind the RLB Crane Index. The Index is now released twice a year (RLB an acronym for Ridler Levett Bucknall, the consulting firm that develops the index).

In the second quarter of 2017, the RLB crane index has risen to 245. This is a slight increase from the third quarter of 2016. In the last five years, the activity has increased however we have seen the number of cranes dropping in key cities.

Sydney and Melbourne are the exception. New South Wales and Victoria demonstrate to be leaders in the construction industry. Queensland and others states, however, are bearing the brunt of the end of the mining boom. Naturally, it has led to decreases in construction activity.

Sydney currently hosts 51.1 per cent of Australia’s active cranes. The index for Sydney reads 363. It reflects the growth in construction projects underway in the state. Most of the works are residential (53 per cent). This is unlike other Aussie cities where cranes are primarily in the central business districts.

The crane index is directly relevant to the types of aviation construction projects we specialise in at Avlaw Aviation Consulting. Cranes are inherently involved in the airport construction sector. The new Western Sydney Airport, and all domestic and international airports, constantly require the use of cranes to properly develop facilities for efficient air transport.

We have assisted developers securing approvals from regulatory authorities where cranes play an important role. This has included approvals from cranes penetrating PANS-OPS and RTCC surfaces in protected airspace. We have advised also on projects developed in major international airports such as Brisbane and Sydney.

Cranes present a significant safety issue, which is exactly why regulators concern themselves about them in development applications. A collision between a crane and an aircraft can be devastating, A commercial plane operated by Singapore Airlines crashed into two cranes at Taipei Airport, Taiwan in October 2000 after taxiing onto the wrong runway, killing scores of people.
Whilst a developer or crane operator were not at fault, it is still indicative of the safety hazards that can materialise.

If you have any concerns about a development, please do not hesitate to contact our consultants.