Flying operations approved for Williamtown Regional News by NOTA - July 17, 2015 Flying operations of the new F-35A Lightning II aircraft operating out of Williamtown have been approved under national environment law. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Federal Member for Paterson Bob Baldwin today welcomed approval by the Federal Department of the Environment. “The Department of Defence has met another major milestone on its path to acquire 72 F-35A aircraft to replace the ageing F/A-18A/B Hornet aircraft,” Mr Baldwin said. “This approval means the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) will continue to play the important role in our community it has since the late 1930s. “RAAF Base Williamtown will remain the nation’s main fighter pilot training base and will house most of the planned F-35A Lightning II aircraft. “This is good news for Paterson because the Base makes a major contribution to our local community, directly employing 3500 people, bringing in $280 million. “The 2000 members of the Royal Australian Air Force, their families and the supporting civilian workforce will continue to live here in our community, send their kids to local schools and play in local sporting teams. “Importantly, the approval will not change the current conditions as Defence have advised the combined number of aircraft movements is not expected to change significantly. “Defence is also addressing community concerns raised during the public consultation process by implementing an Aircraft Noise Management System and have established a Memorandum of Understanding with the Aircraft Noise Ombudsman to independently review Defence aircraft noise management and complaint handling. “The RAAF previously introduced new noise abatement procedures for the Base in October 2014.” The Air Force will also continue to publish noise and flight path monitoring data for RAAF Base Williamtown on the Defence Aircraft Noise website and continue to participate in forums for community consultation, including the Williamtown Advisory Group.