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Research Guides


Commonwealth Government Records about South Australia


Civil aviation

By the end of World War I, the Commonwealth Government had begun to regard civil aviation as increasingly important. In 1920 the Air Navigation Act was passed.

Government control of civil aviation in South Australia began with the establishment of the Parafield Aerodrome in 1928. Increasing interest in flying saw the Adelaide Steamship Company start Adelaide Airways Limited in 1935, which operated flights between Adelaide and Port Lincoln, Kangaroo Island, Broken Hill and Melbourne. By 1936 Australian National Airways had begun operations, incorporating Adelaide Airways.

In 1938 the Department of Civil Aviation was established. Policy, planning, finance and development of civil aviation was controlled by the department's head office in Melbourne, with 'outstation' staff supervising air radio, flight control and maintenance.

The Department of Civil Aviation was reorganised in 1945 to meet the demands imposed by the expansion of civil aviation and new post-war and international conditions. Its principal responsibilities included the safety of civil flying; licensing of pilots, ground engineers, navigators and radio operators; supervision of operations and licensing of airlines for the carriage of mail, passengers and freight; and construction and maintenance of aerodromes and seaplane bases.

In 1957 the South Australian and Northern Territory regional offices were amalgamated for administrative purposes and became known as the Department of Civil Aviation, South Australia/Northern Territory Region.

The Department of Transport and Department of Civil Aviation were amalgamated in 1973. The Department of Transport became responsible for air transport, as well as road, rail and sea transport.

In 1982 the Prime Minister announced that the Department of Transport had been abolished. The functions of the department were consequently divided between the new Department of Aviation and Department of Transport and Construction.

From 1995 the Civil Aviation Safety Authority became responsible for – but not exclusively – setting aviation safety standards, registration of aircraft, licensing and compliance with safety regulations. Other Commonwealth agencies also had responsibilities relating to the aviation function, and consequently created records about matters such as the purchase of land, runway and building construction, navigation equipment and safety, and environmental issues.

Records held by the Archives relating to civil aviation in South Australia include aircraft history files, photographs, incident reports, drawings and plans.

Selected series relating to civil aviation in South Australia
Canberra, Melbourne, Perth
Recorded by: Department of Civil Aviation, Central Office
Aircraft history files, 1923– B2539
Sydney, Melbourne
Recorded by: Department of Civil Aviation, Central Office
Flight crew history files, 1922– B597
Melbourne
Recorded by: Department of Civil Aviation, Central Office
Name index cards to first and second class or cadet navigators, 1934–48 B842
Canberra, Sydney
Recorded by: Department of Civil Aviation, South Australia/Northern Territory Region
Correspondence files, 'S' (South Australia), 1978–90 D648
Sydney
Recorded by: Department of Civil Aviation, South Australia/Northern Territory Region
Correspondence files, 1947–53 D645
Correspondence files, 1953–87 D646
Correspondence files, 1955–60 AP1456/1
General correspondence, Adelaide airport, 1951–80 D1162
Outstation correspondence files, 1960–85 D4887
Photograph registers, 1950–87 D2809
Works proposals, 1957–91 D600
Civil engineering specifications for departmental aerodrome works, 1953–83 D2241
Civil engineering specifications for departmental aerodrome works by private organisations, 1954–82 D2787
Civil engineering specifications for departmental aerodrome works, 1957–78 D2785
Civil engineering specifications for departmental aerodrome works by private organisations, 1962–77 D2786
Civil engineering specifications for departmental aerodrome works, 1958–79 D2784
Permits to commence building works, 1964–81 D2788
Air safety incident reports, 1959–62 D1683
Correspondence files, air safety investigations, 1963–68 D1682
Correspondence files, air safety investigations, 1968–78 D934
Design and circuitry drawings, 1965–85 D2222
Sydney
Recorded by: Department of Civil Aviation, South Australia/Northern Territory Region – Airports Branch
Project file register, 1955–70 AP651/3
Office instructions, 1956–57 AP651/4
Building permits, 1964–67 AP651/2
Sydney
Recorded by: Adelaide Airport (West Beach Airport)/Federal Airports Corporation, Adelaide Airport
Correspondence files, 'S', 1970–88 D5032
Correspondence files, 1977–87 D5027
Correspondence files, 1979–91 D5028
Sydney
Recorded by: Parafield Airport, South Australia/Federal Airports Corporation, Parafield Airport
Administrative change, 1928–98 D5391
Establishment records, 1928–88 D5386
Major infrastructure drawings and project records, 1928– D5384
Operational policy and procedure records, 1928–88 D5381
Planning and development, drawing and project records, 1928–98 D5388
Airport planning and strategy records, 1942–98 D5393
Sydney
Recorded by: Qantas Airways Limited, State Office, South Australia and Northern Territory
Trans Australia Airlines (TAA) South Australia/Northern Territory Branch Manager's correspondence files, 1946–79 D5022
Sydney
Recorded by: Director of Works, South Australia
Structural design job folders, Adelaide Airport, 1951–57 AP616/3
Selected items relating to civil aviation in South Australia
Sydney
Kingscote aerodrome, 1955 D645, 250/7/1 5
Adelaide Airport – communications general, 1956–85 D648, S112/20/141
Adelaide
Australian aerial services bulletins, 1930–34 B300, 6187/5
Adelaide Airport West Beach – acquisition of land, 1950–51 D4404, 2/1261
Adelaide Airport – alterations to Sir Ross and Keith Smith Memorial building, 1980–84 D5156, ADELAIDE AIRPORT

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Chapter 18
Transport