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Flight curfew on Brisbane ‘won’t help’ with aircraft noise, says BAC

written by Hannah Dowling | January 27, 2022

Virgin Australia Boeing 737-8FE departs from Brisbane, at sunset. (Michael Marston)

Imposing a flight curfew on Brisbane Airport would be unlikely to help with flight noise complaints, and the “worst thing to happen” to the airport, according to airport CEO Gert-Jan de Graaff.

Speaking on 4BC radio, the Brisbane Airport Corporation boss acknowledged that the airport was trying to “identify and explore all opportunities” in order to reduce noise pollution above Brisbane’s inner-city suburbs, amid growing community frustration about flight noise.

It comes one week after Brisbane Airport and Airservices Australia revealed they will work together on a number of possible solutions to reduce aircraft noise, including trials that could result in more flights taking off and landing over Moreton Bay, as opposed to the city.

However, de Graaff noted that despite some sentiment in the community supporting the introduction of flight curfews on Brisbane Airport, he doesn’t see it as a viable solution.

“[A curfew would be] the worse thing that could happen to our airport,” he said.

“And it’s not going to help too much, because during the night there are not that many flights.

“So, I think there are other and better opportunities for us to explore, together with air traffic control, to make the situation better in the best interest of all people living in Brisbane.”

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de Graaff said that any restrictions that impose on the number of flights that can access Brisbane would “not be of benefit to Brisbane”, the airport or to the travelling public.

“But what we want as Brisbane Airport Corporation together with Air Services, is to identify and explore all opportunities that exist to make the noise impact on the neighborhood, the community as little as possible.”

It comes after residents of inner-city Brisbane suburbs spent months lobbying and protesting against excessive aircraft noise pollution over their homes following the introduction of Brisbane’s second parallel runway.

The airport opened its new parallel runway in July 2020, and simultaneously implemented a slew of new flight paths that residents have since stated do not meet the expectations set in consultation with the community prior to the runway’s approval.

Airservices Australia and Brisbane Airport will now work through a number of possible solutions, as part of Airservices’ ongoing post implementation review of the airport’s new flight paths.

The Post Implementation Review Advisory Forum, tasked with independently investigating the impact of Brisbane Airport’s new flight paths, has released its first quarterly report, which outlines the changes to be trialled.

One move includes a 12-month trial of extending simultaneous opposite direction parallel runway operations (SODPROPS) by an additional two hours to 8am on weekends, allowing more flights to arrive and depart over Moreton Bay rather than the city.

Another tactic to be implemented is the removal of intersection departures – meaning aircraft taking off at a point prior to the determined take-off point of a runway – for flights taking off over the suburbs, allowing aircraft to fly at a higher altitude on departure.

The third is the introduction of a noise abatement procedure that will require jet aircraft to remain on an agreed flight path until they reach 10,000-12,000 feet in order to minimise flight noise over suburbs.

Meanwhile, Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) and Airservices will also submit a request to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority to increase the allowable tailwind for aircraft to 7 knots, which could also increase the number of flights arriving and departing over Moreton Bay.

BAC had previously attempted to get CASA to increase this limit to 10 knots, however its proposal was knocked back due to “insufficient evidence or data”.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, who set up the forum in September, said he is “very pleased” with the progress that has been made.

“Importantly, Airservices Australia and Brisbane Airport Corporation have agreed to three measures which could be implemented in the first half of this year. These actions could provide the noise relief locals need.”

Comments (16)

  • Rex Palmer

    says:

    Isn’t typical, you build an airport & then the developers get hold of some cheap land, sell it off & then the noise complaints start. Where did they think they were buying? the developers should be held accountable & should provide noise abatement within the houses & make it quite clear that the buyers are living under a flight path. Or the planning authority should not allow housing under a flight path full stop.

    • Ben

      says:

      The problem is these flights aren’t just affecting cheap land near the airport. Residents out to brookfield, pullenvale and samford are also being impacted, most complaints in this latest review came from the northern suburbs. The Airport chose a runway alignment that pushed flights over residential areas, the positioning of Amberley means those flights have to double back over more residents to head north (international). It was always going to end up like this with that design, the airport corp didn’t think it through.

    • Dianne Fullelove

      says:

      These houses have been there a long time. The noise is impacting on suburbs many kilometres from the airport

    • Peter

      says:

      There are two issues with the new parallel runway.

      Firstly, at the time the new runway was being considered, BNE Airport Corp published maps that said that all air traffic on the new runway would take off over Moreton Bay while the old runway would be used for air traffic coming into land over Moreton Bay which has turned out to be false and misleading. It is also why they are scrambling like mad to convince Airservices Australia to accept increases in tail-winds so that aircraft can take off from RWY 01L over Moreton Bay, instead of taking off over the city.

      Secondly, the flight paths that Airservices Australia (AA) developed for the new runway are an absolute mess. For example, aircraft taking off to the south off RWY 19L, climb to 600ft and then divert away from the denser urban areas close to the airport and fly over non-urban areas.

      But in the case of aircraft heading north from the new runway, the BIXAD One departure from RWY19R has aircraft flying straight over the denser urban areas close to the airport and the city and even out as far as Brookfield before turning north east. On top of this, as most of the aircraft flying north are taking fly-in fly-out workers up the mines, the aircraft start taking off at around 5am each morning, with aircraft taking off every 5 or 10 minutes whereas aircraft heading south are taking off only every 30 minutes or so.

      In addition, AA have also almost doubled the flight approach for jet aircraft flying in from the north so instead of the aircraft flying over the outer urban areas of Brisbane, they are now flying over rural areas west of the city as they head towards Ipswich before turning towards the new RWY01L.

      And in the case of prop-jet aircraft approaching to land from the north, instead of the aircraft more or less turning onto short final close to the airport and landing, their new approach path takes them almost to the same intersection before the aircraft are then directed to fly south west right across the city at 5000 to 7000ft again towards Ipswich before they are allowed to turn back towards the new runway.

      Whereas aircraft approaching to land from the south mostly head towards intersection Glenn near Archerfield airport for a straight in approach to land on RWY 01R.

  • Karen Wotherspoon

    says:

    Most overnight flights will be freight, offering little benefit to the travelling public. In a world focussed on reducing carbon emissions, Brisbane Airport Corporations goal to become the freight hub for Asia Pacific, with no limits on their capacity and no curfew, seems very out of touch and irresponsible.

    • Vannus

      says:

      It’s called ‘business’, Karen. Get used to it.

      Air transport of Freight makes more $ than passengers’ can ever generate.

      Since beginning of covid, freight has come into its’ own.
      Just look at the numbers’ of freight configured aircraft QANTAS has now, including leased ones’, from other companies’.
      It’s worth millions’ $ annually to the Company.
      And this is just one airline carrying freight, add in all the others’ & you’ve got multi-millions’ $ being generated.

      So the upshot is, BAC won’t put a night-time curfew on BNE airport. Full stop.

  • Stuart Hearn

    says:

    We live in a modern world, people live with it near HEATHROW, all part of inner-city living, maybe go and live someplace else and get on and stop whining

    • Adrian P

      says:

      Heathrow has a curfew.

      Also Heathrow funds noise insulation for community buildings that are exposed to medium to high levels of aircraft noise. “The scheme pays for buildings to make noise-insulating modifications such as double-glazing, replacement windows and ventilation”.
      Also Heathrow has “The Quieter Homes Scheme provides practical support to those homeowners most affected by aircraft noise at Heathrow. We independently assess each home to determine which noise insulation measures will be most effective and we pay the full cost of carrying out the work”.

      Generally Australian residential properties from an acoustic and thermal performance perspective are poorly designed and constructed.

    • Ben

      says:

      This is the issue Stuart, a lot of the homes being affected by the new flight paths aren’t near the airport. Brookfield, Pullenvale, Samford Valley, most submissions to the forum were from northern suburbs. The question is, should a business be allowed to have such a negative impact on so many people’s quality of lives to make a profit? We don’t let other industries do this in residential areas.

  • Ben

    says:

    It doesn’t make a lot of sense to say on one hand a night curfew would be the worst thing to happen to the airport, but on the other hand say it wouldn’t make much difference to noise because not many flights occur at night. If there aren’t many flights, then the impact is low.

    Residents listening to large international jets fly over their homes in the middle of the night (particularly with lower background noise) might argue these flights do have a big impact. And perhaps the BAC CEO still isn’t really understanding the issue with these comments.

  • Wayno

    says:

    Given the very small amount of air traffic late at night, why wouldn’t they just go back to using only the original runway for all incoming and departing traffic during the overnight period ? That runway has been in use since 1988 when the airport first opened.

  • Tess Bignell

    says:

    I find it abhorrent to be labeled a whinger. We live 45 minutes by road to the Brisbane Airport. Our peace and quiet has been destroyed by this new super Highway above our home. We have no traffic lights, street lights, Council connected water or sewer. Our nearest convenience shop is ten minutes away. We aren’t plane haters. Just don’t destroy our quiet rural lifestyle we paid a premium for, or pollute our drinking water without any advice or consultation.

  • Bob

    says:

    Are you serious!!
    A curfew would mean we could all sleep at night without the fear of a monster aircraft shaking our house at 2am!
    Wow, you people are so cruel. How did you get this job.

  • Marum

    says:

    Tough luck. I like aircraft. When I lived at Hendra, if I heard an aircraft I had never heard before, I would be out trying to get a look at it.

    Get used to it or move….Marum.

    • Vannus

      says:

      Couldn’t agree more, Marum!

      I live under the main N-S-N & NE flight paths, about 50 minutes’ drive from the airport.
      Arrivals I can easily see out my L.R. window to the extent of identifying various companies’ empanage.

      They don’t worry me, & I missed them during this pandemic when flights were halted.
      I’ve been an ‘avgeek’ since 14 years’ old, when my late mother drove me to Eagle Farm on a Sunday, & me armed with my father’s beautiful field glasses, to watch the then new Boeing 727’s land & take-off.

      The wonders of flight have always fascinated me!

    • kfjh

      says:

      There is a word to describe people who don’t consider others.

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