Auckland flight paths

All aircraft fly on designated flight paths, which allow them to safely plan and fly between destinations. Auckland Airport’s close proximity to the city, prevailing winds, and geography, means that aircraft need to fly over the places where we live and work.

Aircraft flight paths have been developed over decades by air traffic control, civil aviation authorities, with safety as the over-riding concern. Air traffic controllers must consider a multitude of factors when planning flight paths. Planes must maintain a certain level of separation between them, maintain sufficient airspeed to keep moving, reserve space for emergency situations and arrive at the runway at their scheduled time.

More than 420 flights land and take off at Auckland Airport every day. As a result, almost all of Auckland experiences some overflight by arriving and/or departing aircraft. If you are interested in viewing the amount of overflight that happens in Auckland’s skies over a seven day period, you can click here and use our interactive mapping tool.

If you have a concern about a particular flight, click here.

Standard routes

Like all major airports around the world, Auckland Airport has a number of standard routes, managed by air traffic control, which aircraft can take when arriving and departing. These standard routes are known as STARS (standard terminal arrival routes) and SIDS (standard instrument departures). Each standard route has waypoints, much like intersections in the sky, through which aircraft may pass.

While flight paths are often thought of and shown as a single line, in practice individual flights occur within a flight corridor. When air traffic is light, air traffic controllers may instruct an aircraft to deviate from a standard route, to reduce its noise, save fuel and reduce its environmental impact. When air traffic is busy however, aircraft follow established routes more closely.

SMART Approaches

SMART Approaches use satellite-based navigation and enable aircraft to burn less fuel, emit less carbon dioxide and fly more quietly. They contribute to international aviation carbon dioxide-emission reduction proposals and are aligned with the New Zealand Government’s National Airspace and Air Navigation Plan.

Click here to read more about SMART approaches here.

Flight path rules

General operating and flight rules for New Zealand are contained in the following documents:

  • Part 91 of the Civil Aviation Rules outlines the requirements for flights operating in New Zealand
  • Part 93 of the Civil Aviation Rules provides aerodrome traffic rules and noise abatement procedures for airports, including Auckland Airport. These include requirements for pilots to approach and depart runways under certain conditions to minimise noise impacts.

How flight paths are determined

The aviation industry and central government work closely on the planning and operation of flight paths in Auckland, which are regulated by a number of Acts, Rules and Plans. You can learn more about the regulations here.