1949, the Minister for Civil Aviation, the Hon. Arthur S. Drakeford
M.P. published a Review of Post-War Progress of Australian Civil
Aviation. The 20-page publication was titled Opportunity of a Century,
and the following is an extract.
In the darkest years of the war, Australian civil aircraft provided
fast transport for essential personnel and urgently needed supplies.
Some airlines relinquished their services so that they could place their
aircraft at the disposal of Allied Forces. They flew more than twelve
million miles under charter for the US Army alone. During this time,
the Department of Civil Aviation carried on with a skeleton staff, mainly
involved with war work. Many an allied pilot owed his life to the care
and vigilance of the Departments flight checking staff, who guided
so many aircraft to safety when they became lost on the long ferry journey
to the North.
Building a Department
DCA was re-organised in 1946 so that it could more effectively encompass
its growing responsibilities. As civil aviation was now too big to be
controlled by a small staff in Melbourne, a regional organisation to
conform to State boundaries was created. Total DCA staff numbers were
425 in 1941, 2,030 in 1946 and 3,381 in 1949.
Divisions, under the control of an Assistant Director-General (Administrative)
Air Transport and External Relations
This Division was responsible for promotion and economic supervision
of Australias air transport system, and for planning future air
services and the basis of operation.
Administrative and Personnel
As its name implies, the Division was concerned with staff matters,
including those at 130 out-stations.
Finance and Stores
The process of financial administration, being governed by Act of Parliament
and Treasury Regulations, placed obligations on DCA to conform to the
regular Commonwealth pattern. There were also demands to acquire, store,
issue, replenish and account for goods and services needed throughout
Technical Divisions administered by the Assistant Director-General (Technical)
The Division of Airports had the task of providing all the buildings,
runways and other permanent constructions needed for the Departments
work. It also controlled the mobile airport construction and maintenance
units. The Department of Works and Housing undertook the actual construction
work to the designs and specifications prepared by the Division.
The Division of Airways created and maintained the invisible radio highways
of the sky which guide aircraft to their destinations. It was responsible
for the construction and staffing of the communication networks, radio
navigation aids, aerodrome lighting, power supply and vehicle maintenance.
Navigation and Safety
This Division was the Departments main licensing authority. It
was responsible for the fitness of aircrews and the safety of aircraft.
It decided the operational limitations which were placed on air services
according to the country they fly over and the airports they use.
Two new sections in this division were the Accident Studies and Aviation
Terminals at Capital Cities
When hostilities ceased, the Department lost no time in starting work
on long overdue reconstruction of the airports serving Sydney and Melbourne.
Essendon was the busiest airport in the British Commonwealth, but did
not posses a single hard surface runway in 1946. At each State capital,
the Department is providing two good airports.
Melbourne: Work began in 1946 on the construction of the three
runways at Essendon Airport. These are now almost completed but, unfortunately,
only one runway could be built of concrete because of the shortage of
Sydney: During 1946 Federal Cabinet approved a most spectacular
and ambitious plan to develop Kingsford Smith Airport at Mascot as the
international airport of Sydney. After years of painstaking investigation
of all possible sites, the Departments experts decided that Mascot
could be developed to handle the most modern international aircraft.
The Department conferred on Sydney the priceless advantage of an airport
close to the city. When the Eastern Suburbs Railway is finished, the
passenger terminal will be only 4½ miles from Sydneys Central
Adelaide: At the beginning of 1947, Federal Cabinet approved the
construction of a new airport at West Beach, and work has continued
so well that the new airport should be ready for use by the winter of
Brisbane: Eagle Farm at Brisbane was one wartime airport which could
be used for civil purposes, and it was taken over by the Department
when vacated by the American Forces. [Archerfield was previously the
Brisbane civil airport.]
Perth: Considerable extensions have been made to Guilford Airport
which has been taken over from the RAAF and is now the main airport
Tasmania: The Department has completed a concrete runway at Western
Junction [Launceston] and begun work on a new airport at Hobart at Llanherne,
estimated to cost £760,000.