Flight paths in Brisbane are designed to accommodate and keep segregated aircraft arriving from and departing to ports in different directions. The vast majority of aircraft at Brisbane Airport are medium to large jets.
Jet arrivals into Brisbane are generally aligned with the runway at least ten kilometres from the airport. From this point they will fly towards the runway in a straight line. This means that suburbs in line with the runways are overflown by arriving jets. Other suburbs may be overflown by aircraft proceeding towards the point at which they join the final approach and align with the runway.
Runways 01 and 19 have Instrument Landing Systems (ILS). While the ILS approach for Runway 19 is over water, the Runway 01 approach begins in the vicinity of Archerfield Airport and flies straight in over the suburbs. This type of approach requires aircraft to be at around 3000 feet when they begin their approach. Aircraft will descend steadily to the runway using the horizontal and vertical guidance provided by the system. During inclement weather all aircraft use this flight path. It is also used in fine weather for safety reasons when the smaller cross runway is in use in combination with Runway 01.
There is no minimum altitude for aircraft in the process of landing. Aircraft will generally descend on a glide slope of three degrees.
A growing number of modern aircraft are now fitted with navigation systems that use satellite-assisted guidance which allow aircraft to fly with a higher degree of accuracy and more closely follow the same route as other aircraft. Airservices refers to these routes as Smart Tracking. Smart Tracking technology makes air travel safer, cleaner and more dependable. It also has the potential to improve noise outcomes for communities living close to airports. Smart Tracking has been in place in Brisbane since 2007. Two of these procedures were updated in 2015 to enable a wider range of aircraft to use them.
Departure flight paths allow aircraft to maintain the runway heading for a short time until they are stabilised in flight, and then to turn towards the route that will take them to their destination.
When Runway 19 is in use, aircraft bound for destinations to the north, north-east, north-west and east such as Cairns, New Zealand, the United States, China, Singapore and Hong Kong will turn right after departure and then turn again towards their route. Because these are largely international destinations, heavy jets will generally use this flight path. Aircraft bound for destinations to the south such as Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra will veer left after departure before turning towards the south-west.
The altitude of aircraft after departure will depend on factors such as the type of aircraft and its weight, how heavily laden it is with fuel and passengers, and the atmospheric conditions at the time. All these factors affect an aircraft’s climb rate. There is no regulated minimum altitude for an aircraft in the process of taking off.
Flight path information
See below for images of typical flight paths and how frequently they were used in the quarter indicated. Please note that aircraft do fly outside the shown swathes. For example, the swathes do not extend to all the areas that are overflown by arriving aircraft being vectored or show the full length of departure flight paths. Further, aircraft may be directed off the usual flight paths for reasons including the need to avoid bad weather or for traffic management, that is, to ensure safe separation between aircraft. See WebTrak for further information about where aircraft fly. More explanation is also available in the Why Aircraft Fly Where They Do fact sheet.