Client name: Department of Defence – Estate and Infrastructure Group

Duration: May 2015 - September 2016

Location: RAAF Base Williamtown, NSW Australia

Total project value: Part of the $1.47 Billion for R8000


Highly complex stakeholder engagement saw Coffey successfully deliver the first major upgrade to a Defence operated airfield in nearly 50 years.

Delivering a multifaceted and highly strategic project

This multifaceted project included an additional 340m of runway pavement; new taxiways and an aircraft safety point (apron) that includes a 150m long, 8m high revetment wall and acoustic barrier.

Aeronautical ground lighting equipment was installed including a significantly upgraded High Intensity Approach lighting system (HIAL). A new generation instrument landing system that is the first of its kind in Australia, a jet blast deflector and an aircraft arrestor systems with modern communication systems that will provide a precedent for future systems across Australia were all installed.

In addition to the primary infrastructure, supporting infrastructure including major services upgrades and access roads were also coordinated to sustain the new works. 

Coffey worked closely with a multitude of stakeholders across each of these elements to see a major milestone achieved in the anticipated arrival of the F‐35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter with the opening of the 340m South East Runway extension.

Managing major construction works while maintaining operations for a busy airfield

The construction methodology was shaped by a number of unique site constraints including undertaking the works while maintaining full operation of the airfield for Defence and civilian aircraft. In addition to risks of aircraft flying overhead, the Project overcame a high water table and a myriad of services such as the main water supply and sewer lines.

Coffey worked closely with the client and a number of additional Defence stakeholders as well as many external parties including Newcastle Airport, aviation authorities and specialist airfield safety contractors to ensure a safe and operational airfield while meeting Project objectives.

The work element was successfully commissioned and handed over to Defence in September 2016 with aircraft fully utilising the area soon after.

Extensive stakeholder management

The nature and expanse of the work external to the Base required significant coordination with a myriad of external stakeholders, including:

  • Indigenous Custodians (Worimi);
  • Other Government bodies (National Parks and Wildlife Service NSW, CrownLand);
  • Local Council (Port Stephens Council);
  • Aviation Authorities (CASA);
  • Commercial aerodrome users (NewcastleAirport);
  • Road Authorities (RMS);
  • Water Authorities (Hunter Water);
  • Energy Authorities (Ausgrid); and
  • Local groups (Boy Scouts of Australia).

Our team actively engaged with stakeholders from the early phases of the Project to cultivate robust relationships that would enable effective problem solving during challenging phases of the works.

The ongoing successful management of this complex stakeholder group was developed by early stakeholder identification and analysis and the upfront creation of stakeholder working groups with appropriate representatives.  We maintained open and relevant communication and information disclosure.  The team were agile in their approach – allowing for planned and unplanned consultation as it was required.

In the event of a challenge this framework of established relationships allowed the Project to collaborate with Stakeholders in a way that allowed the team to proactively work through challenges while maintaining Project objectives and time frames.
There are several success stories attributed to this approach including:

  • Approval to acquire land required for installation of HIAL;
  • Approval of easements on land required for south east runway equipment installation;
  • Approval of designs requiring stakeholder input; and
  • Support and endorsement to conduct Project works as required.