Airservices manages enquiries and complaints about aircraft noise and operations through the Noise Complaints and Information Service (NCIS). The information below is collected by the NCIS for the purpose of complaint management, analysis of issues and identification of causal factors. For this reason we refer to ‘complainants’ and ‘issues’. Complainants are people who contacted the NCIS. While some people submitted enquiries or comments rather than complaints, all are referred to as “complainants”. Issues are the primary concern they raised.
There were 25 complainants for the quarter. This is a decrease from 31 complainants in the previous quarter and below quarter two of 2016 where there were 49 complainants.
There have been 52 individual complainants for the year-to-date.
Forty percent of the issues raised by complainants in quarter two were about flight paths including concerns about increased frequency of use, perceptions something had changed, and the altitudes of aircraft. A further twenty-four percent were about helicopters.
Chart 1: Issues and number of complainants raising them
All of the complainants that raised the issue of helicopters were concerned with emergency services helicopter operations. See the Investigations page for more information about helicopter movements during the curfew.
The complainant concerned with general aviation traffic was affected by an aircraft conducting a Laser Airborne Depth Sounder (LADS) survey. LADS is a laser system that measures the seafloor depths of coastal waters. The aircraft involved in this mission does fly at low levels, and the survey was conducted over a 10 week period. Only one complainant can be attributed to this event.
The majority of complainants raising flight path issues were concerned with Runway 05 departures as shown in Chart 2. The use of Runway 05 historically rises in the second quarter of the year and this was the case for 2017 with a sharp rise in use in May.
Chart 2: Runway directions associated with flight path issues
Complainants from 23 suburbs raised issues in the second quarter of 2017. Twenty-one of these suburbs had one complainant each, with two suburbs having two complainants. These were Glenelg North and Walkerville. One complainant from each of these suburbs raised issues about movements in the curfew period. One of the Walkerville correspondents was making a positive comment and not a complaint.
There were 31 complainants for the first quarter of 2017, up from 24 complainants in the fourth quarter of 2016 but below the same quarter in 2016 (47).
The main issues were related to flight paths including a perception that something had changed, the location of the flight path, altitudes and increased frequency of use. 17 complainants raised these issues. Five complainants raised helicopter issues. In each case the helicopter was emergency services.
Four complainants were concerned about an aircraft doing multiple passes over the area on 24 January. This was a Navy aircraft calibrating on-board equipment with two known surveyed landmarks, Noaralunga Jetty and Bice Oval. This was classified as “general aviation” in chart 1.
Chart 1: Issues
Historically Runway 23 tends to receive increased use in the warmer months of the year due to seasonal wind patterns. This was reflected in complaints with 53% of flight path-related submissions being related to arrivals to Runway 23.
Chart 2: Runway directions
Four suburbs had two complainants and 23 suburbs had one complainant. No suburb recorded more than two complainants. Onkaparinga Hills is one of the suburbs with two complainants – both were concerned about the Navy calibration exercise discussed above. West Beach also had two complainants, both concerned about emergency services helicopter activities.
The total number of individual complainants for 2016 was 133.
The two main issues for 2016 were movements during the curfew (35 complainants) and helicopter activities (30 complainants).
With regard to the curfew, the majority of complainants were concerned that aircraft were not complying with the Curfew Act. Most of the nominated movements were permitted movements under the Act. Breaches of curfew are rare but when potential breaches occur they are reported by air traffic control and are investigated and prosecuted by the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development.
Emergency services operations affected 26 of the 30 complainants who were concerned about helicopter activities. Airservices is currently looking at whether there are any options that may provide residents in close proximity to the airport some mitigation of the noise of helicopter arrivals.
Flight path issues such as the perception that something had changed, the desire to change the location of the flight path, and concern about increased frequency of movements, were raised by 42 complainants. These issues tended to be raised when there was a change of runway direction and suburbs that had experienced some respite began to experience noise. This was particularly the case for residents affected by Runway 05 which tends to be used more frequently in the cooler months, as the following chart shows. Runway 23 is the most-used runway throughout the year.
Residents from 79 suburbs lodged complaints in 2016.
The suburbs with the most complainants in 2016 were West Beach (eight complainants), North Adelaide (seven), Glenelg North (six), Mile End (six) and Brooklyn Park and Adelaide with five complainants each. 58 suburbs had one complainant each, nine suburbs had two complainants, four suburbs had three complainants and two suburbs had four complainants.
West Beach and Glenelg North due to their close proximity to the airport are affected by aircraft noise from all operations at the airport at all times of the day. The issues recorded by West Beach and Glenelg North residents included ground running, curfew and helicopter activities.
North Adelaide and Mile End are aligned directly with the main runway. Residents in North Adelaide and Mile End can be affected by both arrivals and departures. While it is preferred that during the curfew period arriving aircraft land over the bay, this is not a requirement. If wind conditions preclude this aircraft will arrive over North Adelaide and Mile End during the curfew. This issue was raised by the greatest number of individual complainants from both suburbs in 2016.
There were 24 complainants in the fourth quarter of 2016. This is half as many complainants as in each of the first three quarters (47, 48, 47).
The two main issues for quarter four were the curfew and helicopter activities, particularly at night.
This is a reflection of the calendar year data above and is also consistent with quarter three where these issues were discussed in more detail.
The suburbs of Croydon, Flinders Park, Glenelg North, Rosewater and West Beach all recorded two complainants during quarter four. Except for Glenelg North, each complainant raised a separate issue. Both complainants in Glenelg North were concerned about aircraft movements during the curfew.
There were 47 complainants for the third quarter, which is consistent with both quarter one and quarter two. For the year-to-date there have been a total of 120 individual complainants, indicating that some complainants have contacted NCIS in more than one quarter.
Issues raised by complainants this quarter included Runway 05 departures. This is unusual for this quarter. Historically the use of this runway declines during July and August and increases again in September due to seasonal wind patterns. This quarter, use peaked in August and then declined over September. This usage pattern was last seen in 2013. The wind also affected the ability to use the preferred runway configuration during the curfew of arrivals and departures over the bay, resulting in more curfew movements over residential areas and contacts from complainants in affected areas.
In September due to strong westerly and north westerly winds, operations were at times confined to the smaller cross runway due to too much crosswind on the main runway. A runway cannot be selected for use if the crosswind exceeds 20 knots – see the Runway selection fact sheet for more details.
Emergency services helicopter activity continued to be a concern with an increase in the number of complainants raising this issue this quarter. The majority of complainants were concerned about the altitude of the operations and the timing of these flights, especially during the early hours of the morning. Emergency services encompass medical, police and fire operations. They operate on a 24 hour basis and are provided with every assistance in their work such as being “direct tracked” to their destination. At times they are required to operate at lower altitudes due to the nature of the emergency. The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) who is the aviation regulator provides these types of operations with the appropriate dispensations.
Defence conducted several military exercises across the Adelaide basin during quarter three. These include military exercises in the Cultana training areas and commemorative fly pasts. No complaints were received about these activities.
Chart 1: Issues raised
Chart 2: Breakdown of increased frequency issue
“YPAD” is the airport code for Adelaide. The numbers refer to runway directions.
No suburb recorded more than two complainants in quarter three. All the suburbs with two complainants were located immediately to the north of the airport and situated in line with the runway, which means they are exposed to both arriving and departing aircraft. These included Mile End, Thebarton, Adelaide, North Adelaide and Klemzig.
There were 48 complainants for the second quarter, consistent with the first quarter. For the year to date there have been 85 “unique” complainants, that is, NCIS has been contacted by 85 individuals.
19 complainants were concerned about aircraft not complying with the curfew based on use of Runway 23 when landing. Runway 23 was used for arrivals on 39 nights during the curfew in this quarter. This was due to the wind conditions making Runway 05 unsuitable for arrivals. This is permitted under the curfew legislation and as such does not constitute a breach. Two aircraft received dispensations from the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development to land after the start of the curfew due to bad weather en route on 5 June. A third dispensation was granted for a late departure on 28 June.
Complainants raised concerns about Runway 05 departures to the north-east and arrivals to Runway 23 from the north-east. Arrivals to Runway 23 decreased overall compared to the previous quarter, consistent with the seasonal pattern. Departures from Runway 05 increased markedly compared to the previous quarter. While this is also in line with the typical seasonal pattern, usage of Runway 05 in the quarter was higher than the same period in 2015 but remained below the peaks in 2013 and 2014. Complainants characterised this as increased frequency or as a change of flight path.
Chart 1: Breakdown of issues raised
This quarter there were two suburbs with five complainants each: Mile End and North Adelaide. There were three suburbs with three complainants each: Adelaide, Dernancourt and Glenelg North. All these suburbs are either in line with the runway or immediately adjacent to the extended centreline, and are therefore affected by both arrivals and departures.
There were 47 complainants for the first quarter. Two issues were highlighted more frequently than others:
Ten complainants were concerned that aircraft were not complying with curfew, however no curfew breaches occurred during this quarter. The majority of complainants were from suburbs affected by Runway 23 arrivals. Under Section 15 of the Act, Runway 23 can be used for arrivals only when air traffic control cannot nominate Runway 05 for arrivals. This occurred on 45 nights in the quarter due to the wind conditions.
In the event of unusual operational or weather events aircraft operators can apply for curfew dispensations from the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development. The Department granted four curfew dispensations this quarter.
16 complainants were concerned about helicopter movements. Helicopters are often used for services that are of benefit to communities, such as fire-fighting, crime prevention, search and rescue and media coverage. Helicopter operations require flexibility and will fly over residential areas that are rarely flown over by other aircraft. In this quarter the majority of helicopter movements were emergency services, shark patrols and media.
Chart 2: Breakdown of helicopter issue
“OCTA” stands for “outside controlled airspace“.
This quarter suburbs with the most complainants were coastal, such as West Beach (five), Glenelg North (four) and Henley Beach (two). All are adjacent to Adelaide Airport. Henley Beach and West Beach are affected by helicopter traffic due to their proximity to the south-west and north-west helicopter departure routes.