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Minimising aircraft noise

Canberra Airport works with Airservices Australia to implement extensive noise abatement measures to minimise the impact of aircraft noise on the community.  The most significant and effective of these noise mitigation initiatives are the long-established Canberra and Queanbeyan noise abatement areas implemented in 1996.

Jet aircraft flying over the noise abatement areas are not permitted to fly below 5,000ft (1,524m) above ground level, and other aircraft are not permitted to fly below 3,000ft (914m).  This protects 99.5 per cent of houses in the Canberra and Queanbeyan communities from direct over-flight (except in emergency situations or adverse weather conditions).  As a result, aircraft flight paths into and out of Canberra Airport are concentrated in the corridor between the noise abatement areas.

People who buy houses outside these noise abatement areas must fully inform themselves of the likely increased noise exposure and future flight activity.

In addition to the noise abatement areas, Smart Tracking (formerly known as RNP) was introduced for capable aircraft in 2005/06.

Historical changes to operations at Canberra Airport to reduce the impact of aircraft noise on surrounding communities are further explained in our Fact Sheet.

Noise abatement areas plan

Describing aircraft noise

Canberra Airport is a curfew-free airport.  This means it operates 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a- week, with operations to increase significantly over time.

Not only will the number of aircraft per hour increase, but they will be bigger and will operate more at night as international and freight operations grow.  Chapter 5: Passenger Terminal capacity and aviation growth, pg 62, of the Canberra Airport 2020 Master Plan provides additional information about the projected growth in operations.

There are several measures to describe aircraft noise, including information about flight paths and single event noise contours (N contours).

Arrival flight paths

Departure flight paths

Dash 8 300 RWY 30 arrival single event

B737 MAX single event

N Contours for Canberra Airport have been prepared in response to Guideline A of the National Airports Safeguarding Framework Measures for Managing Impacts of Aircraft Noise.  N contours are a representation of aircraft frequency (how often) and noise level, over time.

N Contour 60

N Contour 65

N Contour 70

The Canberra Airport 2019 Australian Noise Exposure Forecast (ANEF) illustrates noise levels based on noise insulation standards outlined in AS2021.  Unlike N contours the ANEF contours are not a reflection of noise experience, but rather a set of contours based on an average of aircraft noise when the airport is at capacity.

ANEF 2019

South Jerrabomberra (formerly known as Tralee)

In late 2012, the NSW Government approved in part the rezoning of land at the South Jerrabomberra residential development.  The decision was made that residential development would not be permitted at South Jerrabomberra within the ANEF 20 contour, while development outside the ANEF 20 contour would require aircraft noise attenuation to comply with Table 3.3 of Australian Standard 2021:2015 – Indoor Design Sound Levels for Determination of Aircraft Noise Reduction.

As a result, all sales contracts for houses at South Jerrabomberra include the following legal clause:

The Vendor discloses that the Property is subjected to aircraft noise at any time by the 24 hour a day, 7 day a week passenger, freight and defence aircraft flight operations arriving and departing Canberra Airport.  The frequency of aircraft movements and the size of aircraft are forecast to increase indefinitely into the future.  It is the responsibility of landowners to noise attenuate their property to ensure their amenity as Canberra Airport will remain curfew-free.

Noise and Flight Path Monitoring System

The Airservices Noise and Flight Path Monitoring System (NFPMS) collects noise and flight path data at various airports, including Canberra Airport.  Airservices also collects data from a fixed aircraft noise monitor in Jerrabomberra which has operated since 2002.

In 2016, Noise Information Reports were replaced with online information that is updated quarterly.  From October 2019, new interactive monthly reporting was introduced.  The quarterly reports can be accessed via airservicesaustralia.com

Smart Tracking (formerly know as RNP)

In 2005, Qantas Boeing 737-800 aircraft commenced using the GPS based technology known as Required Navigation Performance (RNP) to operate a curved noise abatement approach to Runway 35. Canberra was the first airport in Australia to be selected for this technology. This meant that aircraft using this RNP (Smart Track) approach could safely bypass Jerrabomberra on arrival.

Airservices Australia data shows that the Smart Track approach to Runway 35 delivers a highly significant 9-10 dBA reduction at the Jerrabomberra noise monitoring terminal during a single noise event from a Boeing 737-800 arrival.  This is referenced in the July 2007 Airservices Australia “Implementation of RNP Operations at Canberra Airport – Noise Monitoring Report”.

Airservices Australia Report RNP Operations at Canberra Airport 2007

This equates to an almost halving of the perceived loudness of noise for residents adjacent to the noise monitoring terminal compared to the Instrument Landing System (ILS) arrival flight path.  Further, Smart Track approaches allow for more direct tracking, which in turn minimises the lateral spread of aircraft noise.

Other Smart Track arrival and departure procedures to Runway 35 have been implemented by Airservices and together with a precision-like Smart Track approach to Runway 17 are utilised by appropriately equipped and pilot trained aircraft providing very substantial noise and fuel savings as well as significant safety enhancements.

Currently the technology is utilised wherever possible by Qantas, Virgin Australia and Defence Boeing 737 fleets.

Further information about Smart Tracking can be found on airservicesaustralia.com

Airservices Fact Sheets

Airservices produces Fact Sheets that explain key issues related to aircraft noise.  These Fact Sheets are intended to provide information on topics which generate a number of enquiries.

Airservices Australia fact sheets

Noise Fact sheet

WebTrak

Airservices Australia has an online tool that enables the community to see where aircraft fly and explore historical trends and patterns.  WebTrak uses information from air traffic control secondary surveillance radars to display aircraft movements within 50 kilometres of the airport and up to 30,000 feet above mean sea level.  Aircraft noise data is also displayed and collected daily from noise monitors strategically located around communities close to the airport.

Airservices Australia WebTrak

Aircraft Noise Ombudsman

The Aircraft Noise Ombudsman (ANO) conducts independent reviews of Airservices Australia’s and Defence’s management of aircraft noise-related activities, including:

  • the handling of complaints or enquiries made to Airservices Australia or Defence about aircraft noise;
  • community consultation processes related to aircraft noise;
  • the presentation and distribution of aircraft noise-related information.

The 2013 article The Truth About Aircraft Noise is informative.

For more information visit ano.gov.au

Aircraft Noise Industry Portal

In 2013, members of the aviation and airport industry collaborated to release an aircraft noise information portal for the Australian community.

The Portal provides information about particular aircraft, airports and noise policies.  However, its intent is mainly to act as a hub where members of the community can find out more about the many facets of aircraft noise. aircraftnoise.com.au

As a partner, Canberra Airport welcomes feedback about the Portal info@canberraairport.com.au