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Sydney Airport maintenance to increase noise over city’s southeast

written by Jake Nelson | August 8, 2023

Sydney Airport’s three runways, as seen from the air. (Image: Sydney Airport)

Maintenance works at Sydney Airport are likely to increase aircraft noise in nearby suburbs for approximately 70 nights between now and 31 December.

The works, which include maintenance on the main north-south runway 16R/34L, building new taxiways, and the construction of Sydney Gateway motorway, will mean late-night freight aircraft and others permitted during curfew hours will use the parallel north-south runway 16L/34R instead.

As a result, overnight noise impacts are expected to increase over suburbs in Sydney’s southeast, including parts of Botany, La Perouse, Kurnell, and Phillip Bay, as aircraft will not be using the main runway’s flight paths which route over the Botany Bay and Kurnell sand dunes. Volumes could reach around 70 decibels, or approximately as loud as a washing machine.

On its website, Sydney Airport says that between 11 and 18 flights use the airport during overnight curfews (11pm to 6am), split evenly between arrivals and departures.

“Commonwealth legislation has always allowed emergency Air Ambulance and a limited number of domestic freight and general aviation flights to operate between 11pm and 6am,” the airport said.


“The freight carried overnight is typically extremely time-sensitive or high value and includes Australia Post mail, food and perishables, radioactive isotopes and e-commerce.”

The airport’s east-west runway, 07/25, is also set to close for “no more than 10 weeks” from October to protect workers carrying out construction on new taxiways and airport parking bays.

“Depending on which of Sydney Airport’s flight paths is being used, the increase caused by the project will be between one and six flights spread across 17-hours between 6am and 11pm, or 3–5%. Some flight paths will see no change in the number of flights or fall to zero,” the airport said.

Aircraft noise is a common point of contention between the aviation sector and residents near airports. Noise has been a flashpoint at Brisbane Airport since the completion of its new parallel runway in July 2020, which allowed more flight paths to open up, but affected nearby communities in the process.

Meanwhile, preliminary flight paths for Western Sydney Airport were released in June, allowing locals to see the impact of noise on their locations. The federal government has launched an interactive Overflight Noise Tool that will allow residents to search by address or location, giving information such as daily aircraft numbers, expected altitude, and predicted noise levels.

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