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Minimising aircraft noise

Canberra Airport works with Airservices Australia to put in place extensive noise respite measures to minimise the impact on the community.  The most significant and effective measure is the long established noise abatement areas.

Jet aircraft flying within the noise abatement areas are not permitted to fly below 5,000ft above ground level and other aircraft are not permitted to fly below 3,000ft.  This protects 99.5 per cent of the houses in the Canberra and Queanbeyan community from direct over flight (other than for emergencies or thunderstorms).  As a result aircraft flight paths into and out of Canberra Airport are concentrated into the corridor between the Canberra noise abatement area and the Queanbeyan noise abatement area.

People who buy houses outside these noise abatement areas must inform themselves of the likely increased noise exposure and the future increase in flights.

Historical changes to operations at Canberra Airport to reduce the impact of aircraft noise on surrounding communities can be found in our Fact sheet.

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Describing aircraft noise

Canberra is a non-curfew airport with 24 hour operations which will increase significantly over time.  Not only will the number of planes per hour increase but they will be bigger aircraft and they will operate more at night as international and freight operations commence and grow.

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

737-800 noise footprint

787-800 noise footprint

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.

These contours compare 2012 contours with airport capacity contours and therefore are a good representation of how noise will change over time as the airport becomes busier and aircraft frequencies increase.

N60 contour

N65 contour

N70 contour

The Canberra Airport 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 are a set of contours based on an average of aircraft noise when the airport is at capacity.

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In late 2012 the NSW Government approved in part the rezoning of land at Tralee for residential development.  The decision was made that residential development will not be permitted at Tralee within the ANEF 20 contour, while development outside the ANEF 20 contour will require aircraft noise attenuation.  Further information about ANEF contours can be found in Describing aircraft noise.

All sales contracts for houses at Tralee will include the following legal clause:

This land 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.

For information on the amount and frequency of noise at Tralee see Describing aircraft noise.

This information has been shared with:

Airservices Australia  Australian Airports Association Federal Minister for Transport

NSW Minister for Planning  ACT Chief Minister  Queanbeyan City Council

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Draft 117 direction

In 2013 the NSW Government released for public comment a draft 117 direction under section 117(2) of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

The draft 117 direction confirms that no new residential development will be approved by the NSW Government within the ANEF 20 contour for Canberra Airport.

The proposal has not been finalised.

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Smart Tracking

In early 2006 Qantas introduced trial flight paths into Canberra Airport utilising new technology known as Required Navigation Performance (RNP) procedures also referred to as “Smart Tracking”.

The Qantas RNP approach from the south to Runway 35 curves around houses at Jerrabomberra providing a constant descent approach (CDA) which is substantially quieter and expends significantly less fuel than straight-in approaches. In 2007 Airservices produced a report showing reduced aircraft noise of 9-10 dB(A) at the Jerrabomberra Noise Monitoring Terminal during a single 737-800 RNP arrival event.

In 2013 Smart Tracking was implemented at Canberra Airport and is in use by aircraft fitted with the necessary navigation equipment.

Further information about Smart Tracking can be found on the Airservices website.

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Airservices Australia has released an online system called WebTrak where anyone can access information about where and how aircraft fly within 55km of Canberra Airport. WebTrak provides information about arriving and departing aircraft, from three months earlier up to just 40 minutes ago. After selecting an aircraft, users are able to make a complaint about that flight directly to Airservices.

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Aircraft Noise Ombudsman

The Aircraft Noise Ombudsman conducts independent administrative reviews of Airservices’ management of aircraft noise related activities including:
– the handling of complaints or enquiries made to Airservices about aircraft noise;
– community consultation processes related to aircraft noise; and
– the presentation and distribution of aircraft noise related information.

The 2013 article The Truth About Aircraft Noise is informative.

For more information visit

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Aircraft Noise Industry Portal

In 2013 members of the aviation and airport industry joined together to release a new aircraft noise information portal for the Australian community.

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

As a partner, Canberra Airport welcomes feedback about the Portal. Just email

To access the Aircraft Noise Industry Portal visit