Brisbane noise complaints increase after runways opens

written by Adam Thorn | August 17, 2020
NEW RUNWAY @ BNE OPENS - VH-YFW - 1272020 737800 (Craig Murray)
A Virgin Australia 737-800 becomes the first commercial flight out of Brisbane Airport’s new runway, VH-YFW on 12/7/2020 (Craig Murray)

Noise complaints at Brisbane Airport have increased from 24 to 117 a month since the opening of its new runway.

The development comes despite earlier promises that new flightpaths would reduce disruption for locals by allowing aircraft to take off over the bay at night, rather than across the city.

The airport played down the situation and said questions and complaints were “expected” given the changes.


“Bulimba, Balmoral and Hawthorne are all communities receiving aircraft noise as a result of the new flight paths, and this is reflected in the questions and complaints we have received since the runway opening,” the airport told The Brisbane Times.

According to new figures released by Airservices Australia, there were 118 noise complaints in July as the new runway came into operation. This included 15 in Bulimba and Hamilton and 14 in Balmoral.

In June, just 24 complaints were received, and in May, it was 26. One reader told The Brisbane Times the sound was “unbearable”.

The airport said in response that, since the changes were applied, 54 per cent of flights arrived or departed over Moreton Bay, and the rest flew over Brisbane suburbs.


“As expected, we have received questions and complaints regarding the new flight paths since parallel runway operations commenced on July 12, 2020,” a spokesperson said. “In the last week, 60 per cent of operations have taken place over the bay.”

The news will lead to fears the complaints will only rise as flights and passengers increase. The airport is currently reported to be operating at only 40 per cent of pre-COVID-19 capacity.

Federal MP Terri Butler, whose constituency is under the flight path, said, “The constituents have told my office that they believe almost all aircraft are being directed over their suburbs.

“This includes in the early hours of the morning. Some constituents are advising that they are experiencing the noise of a new aircraft every 60 seconds. They have identified that aircraft are often flying outside of any flight path.”

Australian Aviation previously reported how the $1 billion runway opened on 11 July with a warbird flypast and the departure of a Virgin Australia 737-8FE to Cairns. Construction workers quietly finished building the $1 billion runway at the end of April.

The project to build it cost more than a $1 billion, took eight years of construction and demanded 3.3 million man-hours from 3,700 Australians.

It’s hoped it will slowly double the hub’s passenger numbers from 23.4 million to more than 50 million by 2040, increasing daily flights to 110 aircraft movements an hour.

At its peak, 650 people were on-site in mid-2019 and 324 subcontractors were hired, with around 90 per cent based in south-east Queensland. In total, the state reclaimed 11 million cubic metres of sand from Moreton Bay as part of the works.

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  • Lee


    I wouldn’t believe anything Terri Butler says.

  • Meepa


    Well, sound travels further over water, plus that effect at night is also louder.

    Also to mention you get organisers of “complaint” letters etc to influence realestate sales and prices etc. Oh and dont forget the crappy politicians who only care about how they look appealing to the organised groups and sadly the media too! (thats why we are in the state we’re in at the moment)

  • Broderick


    The airport was there before many householders’ bought their properties’.
    Don’t whinge about noise then, when you buy near an airport. Simple.
    I live under southern & northern bound flights paths. Aircraft noise doesn’t worry me, as after decades’ I just don’t hear them anymore, even though I’ve perfectly good hearing.
    Flight paths chosen are for safety reasons. The airport’s not going away, ever!

    • Disappointed


      We live 40 minutes away from the Airport and have never experienced the aircraft noise like we are now.

  • jsjgh


    That’s only half the story Broderick. You’re talking about a new runway which presumably has new flight paths. It might be that those particular flight paths were not in use or even proposed when some people bought their properties.

    I live in Berowra in Sydney which is a looong way from YSYD and prior to the Olympics, aircraft noise was pretty much non existent. Since then it’s much, much louder and very common due to a change in flight paths, supposedly to fit more planes onto a safe approach with ridiculously long and low approach now common when 16L/R is in use and particularly during bad weather with a loud AC every few minutes quite common.

    Now with Covid and %90 of Ysyd traffic gone, it’s quieter but still there is the occasional big jet during a super long low approach 50kms from the airport. They’re so low, they won’t even be hit the glide slope for another 40km so why do they need to skim over all the suburbs creating noise and pollution when they’ve got the runway to themselves?

    Also in Sydney with Badgerys Creek, there are bound to be stacks of properties bought before the airport came in.

  • Trudy Constable


    I have noticed more flights over my property since the new runway has been in use. Noice pollution is huge and will affect residents who find it hard to switch off. A complete irresponsible use of tax papers money to even think about another runway so close to the City when it could have been constructed in an area where there is less population. Over 25 flights from 6.40 am to 7pm. A class action may be in the pipeline me thinks

    • Aidan Timothy Scheiwe


      It wasn’t taxpayer money that funded the project. The airport is 14km away from the CBD of Brisbane and is 7km away from any residents. How could a new runway for Brisbane airport be constructed away from the airport? Your comment makes now sense.

  • denny


    I live in Ascot and I have definitely noticed the increase in the Planes going over my property and the extreme noise since the new runway has been opened

  • Jim Brown


    The unrelenting aircraft noise over New Farm is seriously detrimental to human mental health. Studies have shown that noise that is being force-fed into the homes of homes in New Farm and surrounding studies can in fact drive people to suicide. It prevents normal family communications, ruins peaceful study and damages the learning capacity of children. Ultimately I can see a class action. As if there’s not enough mental health/suicide happening nowadays let alone with people trying to work from home with a constant bombardment. I’ve seen some planes apparently 500 metres above rooftops – this is a cruel health hazard from which there is no escape. Those affected are captive inside their homes with no let-up. On Tuesday of this week I counted planes polluting the Brisbane environment by approximately one every 60 seconds. In 2020 I would have thought that this sort of noise torture wouldn’t be permitted. Noise is used in wartime as a highly effective method of torture. Who could ever have predicted government-sanctioned noise torture on such a big scale?

  • Vannus


    Aircraft noise is a fact of life! Get used to it! Wear earplugs, or headphones, if it’s THAT bad!
    I’ve aircraft flying past my LR window, at a distance I can read livery/see empannage, on approach, & after months’ of not seeing, or hearing them, it’s good to have them back.
    Those people who bought land/houses’ in the ‘wealthier’ suburbs of BNE, near the airport, should’ve realised that increase in air traffic would be happening eventually, due modernity, & requirement.
    The now, second runway has been mooted at BNE for decades’, so they can’t say they didn’t know.

  • Mike Brady


    I love the sound of aeroplanes.
    But that’s just me.

    • Warwick


      Me, too! As a kid, my mother would take me to the old Eagle Farm complex to watch the planes, arriving, & departing! Loved it! Still do!

    • RobertB


      Same here. I’ve lived most of my life near or under a flight path. I particularly enjoy the growling noise from PW or RR on climb out. The newer 787s are very quiet, don’t hear much at all.

  • Brad


    Live near a Hospital hear Ambulance
    Live on a River hear boats people and Rowers
    Live on a flight path hear planes
    I live near / on a flight path and the planes don’t really bother me. They are in the air and the noise is ok and then it’s gone. Not that bigger a noise to worry about really.

  • J McLean


    Some overseas towns and cities have an innovative solution. They record the properties owned by noise complainers and ensure that this recorded on the description/title of the houses if they are offered for sale. Prospective buyers can see they may be noise affected. Complaints dropped dramatically.

  • P.Parsons


    Having lived as a child through the war it wasn’t the continuous drone of aircraft with the accompanying percussion of their loads that caused sleepless night unless they were VERY close but the SILENCE of the nights when there were no air raids. We got used to the noise and unless the local air raid siren sounded we were most of the time oblivious to the noise. STOP BEING SO”PRECIOUS” AND SELF CENTRED. Undoubtly you all want to utilise the convinience of air travel and knew that there was an airfield near by and that aircraft like buses ,trucks ,motorcar said and even lawn mowers generate noise

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