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Controversial Brisbane flight paths set for total overhaul

written by Hannah Dowling | April 4, 2022

An aerial look at Brisbane Airport's domestic and international terminals. (Brisbane Airport)
An aerial look at Brisbane Airport’s domestic and international terminals. (Brisbane Airport)

Brisbane MPs have promised Brisbane Airport’s flight paths will be “ripped up and redrawn”, in a major win for residents fighting against increased aircraft noise pollution.

In a joint statement, the MPs pledged to introduce all recommended changes to flight paths and airport operations, as proposed in an interim report under Airservices Australia’s post-implementation review of the airport’s newly introduced flight paths.

Speaking at the airport on Monday, Federal Minister for Brisbane Trevor Evans said a total of 49 changes to flight paths would be introduced “immediately” in order to mitigate aircraft noise for inner-city residents, who collectively made nearly 10,000 complaints to Airservices Australia about noise pollution since July 2020.

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.

It also comes after Airservices Australia revealed during Senate Estimates this weekend that it had received 9,727 complaints between 12 July 2020 and 28 February 2022 from residents across 169 suburbs of Greater Brisbane.

The changes, once implemented, will see “considerably” more flights taking off and landing over Moreton Bay, as opposed to the city, while aircraft will also perform steeper take-offs and descents to reduce the amount of noise, among other solutions.

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The proposed changes build upon current noise abatement trials organised by Brisbane Airport and Airservices Australia, which have extended simultaneous opposite direction parallel runway operations (SODPROPS) to send more flights over Moreton Bay.

However, Evans stopped short of introducing a flight curfew on the airport, nor introducing a permanent forum to monitor aircraft noise levels, similar to that of Sydney Airport.

It comes just days after shadow minister for transport and infrastructure Catherine King revealed Labor’s plans to instate such a permanent forum, should they win the upcoming federal election.

She stated Labor’s commitment to ensuring Brisbane residents are satisfied with what is being done in response to ongoing outrage over increasing aircraft noise pollution over inner-city suburbs.

“Aviation is essential to Australia and to Brisbane,” King said.

“Labor has long argued that the Morrison-Joyce government needs to take seriously the concerns of residents affected by aircraft noise.”

It also follows previous calls from Brisbane Flight Path Community Alliance (BFPCA) to rework Brisbane’s flight paths from scratch, with BFPCA chair and spokesperson David Diamond telling Australian Aviation at the time that the expectations of the flight paths set during public consultation with the community have not been met.

Chair of the Brisbane Airport Post Implementation Review Advisory Forum (BAPAF) Ross Musgrove said some of the new changes could be implemented within weeks, however highlighted that this time around, any changes must be made in consultation with the community.

“Today is the culmination of what started as a community rally asking for a forum to hear their concerns,’’ he said.

“This is so important. This is going to be community-led.

“The community will have a say, which has not happened before.’’

Comments (10)

  • Paul Blackshaw

    says:

    Drop the Compass System for starters at Brisbane. It’s not a suitable system.

  • Robert LIVINGSTONE

    says:

    As an ex-ATC, I object to the use of “controversial” in this headline. All flightpaths were clearly (and might I say exactly) provided well before the runway opened and none could ever be described as controversial. If these did not “meet the expectations” of the community then the community’s expectations were unrealistic.
    When BAC released the interactive map I entered my address and found that departures off RWY 19R to the W and NW would pass directly overhead, those to the N would pass a few kilometers E of me and that many arrivals to 01R would also pass directly overhead. I did a quick estimation and decided that none would be a particular problem, the first and third passing 10,000ft on climb and the latter passing 5,000ft on descent.
    The reality proved to be correct. Inbound 737s, if equipped with a bombsight, would be capable of putting a bomb thru my kitchen window and none bother me beyond advertising their passing.
    Those who live under the initial departure track of either runway direction are never going to be pacified; the smart ones sold as soon as the location of the runway was announced; the remainder did not understand or did not pay attention, as NOTHING will ever placate them, particularly steeper climbs on departure.
    History repeats itself. I was ATC Sydney Airport, and the bullsh and complexity which we had to endure to “share the noise” had to be seen to be believed. At least in Brisbane there is no “cross runway” any more and all procedures will be parallel.
    Everything I have read about the new procedures is simply a repeat of Sydney and International airport requirements: more SODPROPS, increased downwind limitations, increased arbitrary runway changes (none operationally needed) and more stress and unnecessary safety issue decisions on pilots and ATC…for what? You cannot please all the people all the time and I will be amazed if this reduces the number of complaints by more than 15%…until more housing estates open and THY start complaining.
    All that is happening is moving the problem to another group of people who will soon be just as outraged, if not more so, than previously and only in a short period of time.
    You CANNOT have an airport in close proximity to a major city which will not have a noise footprint which is going to upset those underneath. If you really want to solve the problem there are three options: 1. Move the airport to the back of beyond (and just see how THAT causes a backlash from frequent travelers); 2. Close the airport altogether and retreat to the 19th Century; 3. (As I was told in Sydney) – stop the complaints.
    Thank goodness that a curfew is off the table FOR THE MOMENT.
    As to curfews, it is correctly said that once a curfew is introduced, it can NEVER be removed. Because of Australia’s geographical location, airport curfews already create havoc to International airlines to the point that some will simply not bother to fly to Australia. Arriving early means holding and extra fuel, running one minute late on departure means a full aircraft which cannot meet the airborne time has to return to the terminal and deal with the cost and hassle of overnighting passengers in hotels.
    I clearly recall repetitively warning pilots, particularly during taxy as the curfew counted down, that they MUST be airborne at or before 11.00pm or a take-off clearance would not be issued and that if they continued their company would be subject to sanctions and large fines and that an immediate verbal report would be made to the Minister for Civil Aviation of the breaking of curfew. Airborne times were often recorded within seconds of the cut-off.
    I cannot see that this antagonistic relationship between ATC and International pilots is a good thing, nor is the ‘encouragement’ for pilots to taxi faster than recommended; indeed, a curfew would reduce the ability of the airport to operate at any semblance of profitability; the average person has no understanding of the number of night cargo operations which move across Australia while they sleep to provide them their fresh food, parcel delivery and much more even before discussing the International cargo movement across the Pacific which services our aid to Pacific nations.
    So – changes to what we presently have maybe, but just reinventing the wheel as far I can see.

    • James

      says:

      Robert, Perhaps you could explain why, in Sydney, a common flightpath for 16L/R approaches, is to have planes as low as 3000ft as far away as Berowra (which is something like 50km from the airport). The planes then skim over thousands of homes in the northern suburbs at this low altitude at higher power settings because they are not descending and are often already in a dirty confirguration with flaps and undercarriage. They don’t hit the glidslope until somewhere around the Gladesville area.
      What on earth is the point of the planes flying from Berowra to Gladsville at 3000ft? It’s as if they’re trying to make as much noise as possible. Why do they need to fly low and level across the entire northern suburbs instead of descending down? They could fly over Berowra at around 8000ft and have a gentle descend down resulting in far less noise.

      • Hayden

        says:

        Or, you could just stop complaining and get on with life. Just an idea.

  • Andy Hegh

    says:

    Before the new Brisbane runway was built, blind
    Freddie could see that noise pollution was going to be a problem, despite the denials of airport staff. The flight path goes over some of the most expensive and prestigious realestate in Brisbane where a lot of heavy hitters live. Unfortunately for the airport staff, Darryl Kerrigan of the Castle fame was not one of them.

  • Rod Pickin

    says:

    We can all relax now; – the pollies have taken control and I wait with baited breath to see what pearls of wisdom emerge.

  • Geoff

    says:

    Well explained Robert. Your comments are perfectly reasonable to reasonable people.

    No curfews are needed as people are consulted well in advance but many choose to ignore and then complain. Unreasonable as they never understand.

  • Blake

    says:

    No matter which flight paths’ are designated, people will whinge & complain.
    That’s just human nature.

  • Anne

    says:

    I know this will mean us outlying suburbs will be dumped on. Money definitely buys results.

  • Mr Not Likely

    says:

    I live in Springwood SEQ, the frequency of flights is increasing. Many planes fly nearly directly of my house at altitudes between 7 to 10 thousand feet. All these planes are throttling up gaining alltitude. As a result they are very loud. I’d be interesteed to know what the effects of jet exhaust has on humans. Just a senior citizen here 70+ and over being wokening up commencing 5.30Am ish every damn day… 😡

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