Managing aircraft noise in our community
As an industry, we recognise that aircraft noise is a concern for some of our neighbours. Managing aircraft noise is a priority across all of the aviation industry and is the joint responsibility of a number of organisations.
The SMART Approach flight paths in Auckland have been specifically designed to reduce carbon emissions, flight times and the distance flown over residential areas – thereby minimising noise impacts on the community.
Analysis of public feedback on the initial trial in 2012 and 2013 found that only 24% of flights identified in the feedback were actually operating SMART Approaches. The majority related to aircraft on existing flight paths and a significant amount of feedback was about a certain aircraft procedure known as visual flight approaches, which allow for aircraft to fly lower than SMART Approaches over residential areas. As a result of the trial and consultation, the implemented SMART flight paths, as well as the Yellow U23 flight path trialled between September 2015 and August 2016, were made higher in places and the curves of the approaches widened, so that aircraft could reduce the use of thrust and speed brakes – reducing noise, using even less fuel and delivering benefits for the environment.
The final SMART Approaches report from the trial in 2012 and 2013 also confirmed that from September 2015 all jets flying conventional flight paths from the north would no longer be able to make visual approaches to Auckland Airport. Visual approaches are considered to create more noise than instrument-based approaches. Visual approaches to the airport from the north by wide-body jets, such as the B777, were stopped in September 2014.
However, this will not eliminate all lower than normal overflight. On occasion, Airways New Zealand may instruct pilots to fly a lower than normal approach for the purposes of safety or the sequencing of aircraft on final approach when the airspace is congested. The industry will continue to collaborate to minimise the need for lower than usual overflight on approach to the runway.
As a result of public feedback on the draft report on the 2015-2016 Yellow U23 SMART Approach flight path trial, in May 2018 Airways, BARNZ and Auckland Airport announced that they had modified the flight path to further avoid populated areas. The flight path is now almost 1.5 kilometres off the coast of Eastern Beach, Mellons Bay, Cockle Bay and Waikiteroa Reserve, on average, and it’s also now around half a kilometre south-east of Whitford. Aircraft using the modified flight path will also be higher — at 5,000 feet when they fly over Bucklands Beach and 2,800 feet when flying south-east of Whitford. While these modifications would result in a slightly longer flight path for aircraft than trialled, they will reduce the impact of the flight path on the local communities.
Click here to find out more about what the aviation industry is doing to manage aircraft noise.
New generation aircraft – reducing noise at the source
New generation aircraft, which are larger, quieter and more efficient, are helping to reduce aircraft noise at the source. Their larger capacity also means that although passenger numbers are increasing, the number of flights is increasing at a slower rate. These measures are amongst those advocated by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) which sets standards and regulates aviation safety and security, efficiency and environmental protection. To find out more please visit the ICAO website.
Aircraft Noise Community Consultative Group (ANCCG)
All partners involved in the SMART Approaches trial are members of the Aircraft Noise Community Consultative Group (ANCCG). The Group was established in 1997 and makes recommendations on aircraft noise issues and concerns that arise from operations and activities. The Group also includes representatives from Auckland Council, its Local Boards the local community. The ANCCG is independently chaired. Click here to find out more about the ANCCG.