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Aircraft Noise FAQ’s

Canberra Airport encourages members of the community to understand the impact of aircraft noise and how it may affect them, so as to ultimately avoid a loss of amenity.   The vision of Canberra Airport is to develop Canberra Airport as a first-class facility to serve the region’s evolving transportation, business and development needs and to maximise the growth of a wide range of aeronautical and other businesses.

We aim to host more passengers on more aircraft across a wider range of airlines, delivering greater economic growth and prosperity to our region, and enabling point-to-point international connections for passengers and freight.

Minimising the impact of aircraft noise on the community is one of Canberra Airport’s key achievements, in partnership with Airservices Australia, the community  and the airlines, and remains an ongoing goal for the future. We have a proactive approach to managing aircraft noise through comprehensive and ongoing consultation with and in response to the community, in particular through regular consultation with our Community Aviation Consultation Group.

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Who manages the airspace over or near my home?

Airservices, a government-owned organisation, manages air traffic operations for more than 90 million passengers on more than 4 million flights every year across Australia including Canberra.

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Who uses the airspace over or near my home?

Aircraft arriving or departing Canberra Airport are not the only user of airspace.  There are a number of other users including general aviation users (non-commercial flyers), the Department of Defence, gliders clubs, rescue flights such as Snowy Hydro SouthCare and others including ACTEW checking overhead powerlines.

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There is an aircraft flying nearby, what is it doing? It doesn’t usually fly there.

Aircraft other than airlines (comprising fixed wing and rotary wing) operate in and around Canberra and the region for a number of reasons including:

  • Special events
  • Emergency services
  • Aerial surveying
  • Power pole checks
  • Wild animal surveys
  • In addition, pilots do undertake general training at Canberra airport.

Information about these services is often published on the Airservices aircraft noise ‘News’ webpage.

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Why do I need to put up with aircraft noise?

Aircraft noise is an unavoidable consequence of aviation activity. Balancing aviation growth and the impact of aircraft noise is a challenge that Canberra Airport manages in collaboration with Airservices and the aviation industry to minimise the impacts of aircraft noise on our community.

Flight paths for aircraft arriving and departing Canberra Airport have become well defined over the last 20 years into corridors, north, south and east of the airport in alignment with the relevant runways.

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What is being done to reduce the noise from Canberra Airport?

Over the past 20 years a number of noise abatement procedures have been implemented to reduce noise impacts.  For 20 years Noise Abatement Procedures have been in place for Canberra and Queanbeyan.

Noise Abatement Areas were implemented by Airservices in 1996 to provide relief to over 99.5% of residents around Canberra Airport. They are the most important measure in minimising aircraft noise protection of residential Canberra and Queanbeyan areas.

The Canberra Airport Noise Abatement Zones map can be accessed here.

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I live outside a Noise Abatement Area, will aircraft fly above my home?

All areas in the Canberra region will experience some aircraft noise at some time. In the Noise Abatement Area, the noise may be rare and relate to emergency operations, while in other areas, very close to the airport or under or near commonly used flight paths, outside the Noise Abatement Areas, the noise will be more frequent.

Aircraft flying outside a Noise Abatement Area can and do fly at lower altitudes on arrival and departure from Canberra Airport.  Most significantly homes in the west of Jerrabomberra (particularly those outside the Queanbeyan Noise Abatement Area) are affected by aircraft at lower altitudes.

N contours are also useful in helping to determine aircraft frequency (how often) and noise level for a property. To look up your home in relation to ultimate capacity N contours for Canberra Airport, use the Aircraft Noise Calculator

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Are aircraft getting nosier?

Technological developments in the aviation industry will continue to help reduce aircraft noise. Current aircraft are quieter and much more fuel efficient than those that preceded them. However overtime, as disclosed in our 2014 Master Plan, passenger growth will demand bigger aircraft flying more frequently to and from Canberra Airport. Larger aircraft are unlikely to generate less noise when replacing smaller aircraft.

Please refer to Chapter 5 of the Canberra Airport 2014 Master Plan.

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How can I tell what the aircraft noise level might be for my home?

Our Aircraft Noise Calculator is available to assist you in understanding potential noise levels. The tool provides details on forecast aircraft noise levels expected to be experienced at any particular address.

All areas in the Canberra region will experience some aircraft noise at some time. In the Noise Abatement Area, the noise may be rare and relate to emergency operations, while in other areas, very close to the airport or under or near commonly used flight paths, outside the Noise Abatement Areas, the noise will be more frequent.

When a property’s location is identified, noise contours prepared by Canberra Airport may assist in determining the average level of aircraft noise at that location.  There are current and future noise contours available on the Airport’s website and it is important to take note of both of these to understand how noise is expected to change over time. It is important to note that the number of events is averaged across a year. On some days, and during particular times of the year, the number of events on a particular day could be significantly above the average number of events.

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How is noise mapped?

Noise levels are represented as decibels and are correlated with the average number of times in 24 hours that a particular decibel level (and above) will be achieved are mapped as N contours. This can be helpful in providing information about noise levels, and how often a particular level of noise might be experienced.   The number does not however represent the total number of noise events averaged per day. There may be many more events below the threshold noise levels.

Canberra Airport has prepared an online tool to allow community members to look up the various N contours for aircraft noise around the Airport.  The Aircraft Noise Calculator can be accessed at:

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How loud will the noise be?

The level of noise or sound is measured in decibels dB(A).  Our Aircraft Noise tool allows you to determine whether your home or proposed home will experience 60, 65 or 70 dB(A) of aircraft noise in the future. It also shows how often (number of events) this noise would occur on an average day (24 hr period).

Some common noise levels are:
50 dB – Normal Conversation
60 dB – Busy office of restaurant noise or loud conversation
70 dB – TV volume and Freeway traffic at about 15 metres

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Where do aircraft fly in Canberra?

Understanding where aircraft fly is also useful information when understanding aircraft noise.  Airservices’ WebTrak My Neighbourhood is an online tool which shows where aircraft fly around Canberra Airport. There are times where due to weather or other operational reasons, aircraft have to fly outside normal flight path areas.

Chapter 14 of the Canberra Airport 2014 Master Plan also provides useful information on where aircraft fly, and the single event noise footprint of particular aircraft.

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I don’t live underneath a flight path so why is there a plane going over my property?

Although flight paths often appear as straight lines on maps, in reality they are corridors that can be up to several kilometres wide. Factors such as aircraft type, weight and weather conditions determine exactly where aircraft fly and how low within corridors.

From the ground it can appear that an aircraft is flying on the ‘wrong’ or a ‘new’ flight path, which is rarely the case. Occasionally, air traffic controllers ask pilots to fly outside normal flight paths for operational reasons, however this is quite rare.

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Does Canberra Airport have a curfew?

There is no curfew at Canberra Airport. The Commonwealth, ACT and NSW Governments all support the continued operation of Canberra Airport without a curfew because of the greater opportunities to attract freight and international flights to the region when no flight restrictions are imposed.

However, a number of noise abatement procedures apply to reduce the impact of noise:

  • A Noise Abatement Area applies to most areas of Canberra and Queanbeyan. Aircraft will normally be routed to avoid the noise abatement area, which includes Gungahlin, North Canberra, Belconnen, South Canberra, Woden, Tuggeranong and Queanbeyan.
  • Where it isn’t practical for aircraft to remain clear of those areas, overflight of the noise abatement area is restricted to minimum heights above mean sea level of 7,000 feet by jet aircraft, and 5,000 feet by propeller aircraft (other than light aircraft).
  • A number of exceptions apply to the noise abatement areas such as aircraft emergencies, medical priorities and hazardous weather.
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Is Canberra Airport a 24 hour freight airport?

Canberra Airport is already a 24 hours freight airport. The movement of freight has been, and continues to be, carried by a mix of aircraft over a 24 hour cycle. Freight is carried by defence aircraft, domestic passenger aircraft and dedicated aircraft including from time to time international freight aircraft.

Existing passenger flights arrive after 11.30pm on a scheduled basis and when they are running late, they land later in the night/early morning.

Further information on existing and future freight opportunities can be found in Chapter 6 of the Canberra Airport 2014 Master Plan.

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How will the noise from international flights impact me?

Canberra Airport commences international flights in 2016  Our international flights are expected to take the same arrival and departure paths as existing aircraft.

If you live in an area that is already subject to aircraft noise, you may hear more noise. Noise at night is generally more intrusive than noise during the day because there is less background noise at night.

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Why do the aircraft sometime fly closer to my home?

Aircraft on arrival and departure to Canberra Airport fly under instruction from the Canberra air traffic control tower.  From time to time due to weather patterns, congestion, required airspace separations and resulting sequencing demands, aircraft are routed by air traffic control to provide for the safest landing and take-off available.  At times this can cause aircraft to fly in areas they ordinarily would not be in.

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Why are planes allowed to go overhead so low?

Overflight of homes in the noise abatement areas is restricted to minimum heights above mean sea level of 7,000 feet by jet aircraft, and 5,000 feet by propeller aircraft (other than light aircraft). Occasionally aircraft have to fly lower than normal, due to weather conditions or aircraft weight. While it may appear that the aircraft is dangerously low, this is rarely the case.

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Where can I get more information?

The Airservices website, the Canberra Airport website, and the Industry Aircraft Noise website are all good sources of information about aircraft noise around Canberra, Queanbeyan and the adjacent nearby region.

Canberra Airport  |

Aircraft Noise Tool |

Airservices Australia |

Industry Aircraft Noise |