CASA has thrown out Brisbane Airport’s request to increase the allowable tailwind for aircraft, which would have seen fewer planes flying over the homes of inner-city residents.
The safety authority said the proposal do not “provide sufficient evidence or data” to support the change and cited international regulations ruling that noise pollution should not be a factor in changing tailwind allowance.
Residents of Brisbane’s inner-city suburbs, including New Farm, Bulimba, Teneriffe, Hamilton and Hawthorn have spent months lobbying and protesting against excessive aircraft noise pollution over their homes following the introduction of Brisbane’s second parallel runway.
In March, Brisbane Airport Corporation submitted a proposal to the regulator, seeking to increase the allowable tailwind for aircraft arriving or departing from the airport from five knots to 10 knots.
The change, if it had been approved, would aim to result in more aircraft utilising the airport’s parallel runways to the northerly direction, over Moreton Bay, rather than the south, over the suburbs.
“CASA has determined that the current BAC proposal, as presented, does not provide sufficient evidence or data to support an approval for [the] request for runway nomination by air traffic control when the tailwind is greater than five knots and when a suitable alternative runway is available,” the regulator said in its ruling.
Overall, the organisation said the proposal did not provide “sufficient new information, evidence, or a compelling risk analysis” to justify such a change in policy, however the regulator did note that BAC could make another application based on “new or different data” for CASA to reconsider.
“While we are disappointed, we accept CASA’s position and share its commitment to safety as the number one priority for air traffic operations,” BAC said in response to the ruling.
“Nonetheless, BAC is also committed to continuing to pursue improved noise outcomes for our neighbours and we have already commenced work to investigate an alternative tailwind option to the 10 knot request that has been rejected.”
The airport said it will seek support from the aviation industry as it gears up to re-submit a case to CASA “that will be favourably reviewed”.
“Any improvement that can be safely achieved is worth pursuing,” the airport concluded.
Meanwhile, David Diamond, chair of the Brisbane Flight Path Community Alliance (BFPCA) and spokesperson for the aggrieved inner-city community, told The Australian that the proposal was a “bandaid” solution at best, and would have done little to reduce excessive aircraft noise.
“The fundamental design issues with the new runway operation and flights paths would have remained even if the 10 knot allowance had been approved,” said Diamond.
“The significant community impacts that are being experienced and will escalate exponentially post-Covid, would have remained.”
The BFPCA continues to push for a new impact assessment and flight path design exercise, as a means of making a meaningful reduction in aircraft noise for Brisbane residents.
“Unless the community demands are met, then the airport cannot claim a social licence to operate. We all need to coexist for the long term,” Diamond concluded.