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 27 individual complainants in 2017. This is a decrease from 46 complainants in 2016.
In 2016 there was a military exercise which occurred in the late evening/early morning hours. As it attracted complaints from 18 residents this is likely to account for the difference between complainant numbers in 2016 and 2017.
The main issues for residents in the Canberra basin in 2017 were; standard flight path movements with 14 complainants, general aviation traffic with four complainants and helicopters with three complainants.
Chart 1: Issues and number of complainants affected
General aviation traffic
The majority of complainants under this issue were affected by an aircraft involved in obtaining aerial mapping data. This event occurred in March.
The majority of complainants affected by helicopter operations were disturbed by emergency services operations.
Standard flight path movements
This issue affected 52 percent of complainants. As can be seen in chart 2 below, the main concern to residents were Runway 35 arrivals, and this affected 56 percent of complainants in this issue. “Multiple runway directions” means a complainant is affected by both runway directions at the airport.
Chart 2: Runway directions and percentage of complainants affected
Eighteen separate suburbs recorded complainants in 2017. The suburbs recording the most complainants were Jerrabomberra with seven complainants, Queanbeyan West with three complainants and Royalla with two complainants.
The majority of residents in the suburbs recording the most complainants were affected by Runway 35 arrivals. Residents in Jerrabomberra were affected by the aerial mapping and also requested information on property purchases. Queanbeyan West residents were also affected by fixed wing circuit training.
As a comparison in 2016 Jerrabomberra recorded four complainants and the main concern was again Runway 35 arrivals. Queanbeyan West and Royalla did not record complainants in 2016.
Fifteen suburbs recorded a single complainant.
There were four complainants during the fourth quarter of 2017. This is consistent with quarter three.
There were 27 complainants during 2017. This is a decrease from 46 complainants in 2016.
There were only two issues raised in quarter four; standard flight path movements with three complainants and unusual movements with one complainant.
All complainants affected by standard flight path movements were disturbed by Runway 35 arrivals. Traditionally the use of Runway 35 increases early in this quarter and then decreases at the end of the quarter. The complainant affected by unusual movements was disturbed by an aircraft diverting around inclement weather.
Chart 1: Issues and number of complainants affected
Four separate suburbs recorded a single complainant each in quarter four.
Jerrabomberra, Royalla and Queanbeyan were all affected by Runway 35 arrivals; and McKellar was affected by weather diversions.
In quarter four there were 13 537 movements, ranging from 4050 to 4800 per month. On average, in each month of the quarter there were:
• around 2100 jet movements
• around 2000 turbo-prop and propeller aircraft movements
• around 230 helicopter movements.
The busiest month for jet movements was November with 2171 movements and the least busy was December with 1960 movements.
There were four complainants during the third quarter of 2017. This is a reduction from six complainants in the second quarter of 2017.
There have been 24 complainants for the year to date and this is consistent for the same period in 2016.
The NCIS continues to refine how issues are classified and applied. We have recently decided to classify all complaints regarding movements that are tracking on the relevant flight path and within the normal altitudes as Standard flight path movements. In our reporting to the community this will provide greater clarity about what can be expected in the normal course of operations at the airport. Unusual movements will only be used for commercial aircraft operating outside their usual flight paths at major airports. Examples of unusual movements will include, weather diversions, traffic management, radar departures, direct tracking and missed approaches.
The Night Movements category has been expanded beyond the previous 11pm – 6am hours to cover complainants who advise the NCIS that they have been disturbed by air traffic at any hour of the night.
The reason for these changes is to better reflect normal and unusual operations in our reporting and to allow us to more efficiently identify whether or not there are any noise mitigation opportunities available. In most cases at major airports, there is little that can be achieved for any standard flight paths.
As shown in Chart 1 below, standard flight path issues were raised by three complainants during the third quarter. Two of these complainants were affected by Runway 35 arrivals, while the third complainant was affected by multiple runway directions. Historically, the use of Runway 35 continues to increase until December due to seasonal winds.
The issue raised about Training was fixed wing circuit training on Runway 12/30.
Chart 1: Issues and number of complainants raising each
Four separate suburbs recorded a single complainant in quarter three.
Jerrabomberra and Royalla were affected by Runway 35 arrivals, which occurs when the wind has a more northerly component. Currawang was affected by aircraft operations from multiple runway directions and Campbell was affected by the fixed wing circuit training.
There were six complainants during the second quarter. This is a reduction from 19 in the first quarter.
There have been 23 complainants for the year to date and this is consistent with the same period in 2016.
Flight path issues were raised by three complainants during the second quarter, including a perception something had changed, increased frequency and altitude concerns.
Complainants with flight path issues were affected by Runway 35 arrivals. Historically, the use of Runway 35 increases in this quarter due to seasonal winds.
An increase of helicopter activity occurred due to gas line checks, emergency services operations and helicopter training, however no complainants raised these activities.
Chart 1: Issues
Complainants came from four separate suburbs in quarter two.
Jerrabomberra residents (three complainants) were affected by Runway 35 arrivals, which occurs when the wind has a more northerly component. They can also be affected by Runway 17 departures when the wind has a more southerly component. This is due to the alignment of the suburb with the main runway. It is more likely that residents in the western area of the suburb will be affected.
One complainant from Campbell raised the issue of training; Campbell is on the extended centreline of Runway 12/30 and aircraft conducting circuits on this runway may affect the area.
Other complainants came from Flynn and Googong.
Issues and suburbs
There were 19 complainants during the first quarter of 2017. This is consistent with the fourth quarter of 2016.
Six complainants raised issues to do with flight paths. General aviation traffic and helicopter activities attracted three complainants each.
Chart 1: Quarter one issues
The NCIS is continuing to refine how issues are classified and applied. A recent decision to classify all complaints about movements that occur between 11pm and 6am under the issue of Night Movements (rather than under other issues that may also be relevant) means that this issue is likely to become more prominent in the future.
Runway 35 arrivals were the main concern of complainants who raised flight path issues such as increased frequency or a perception that something had changed. Historically the use of Runway 35 declines over the first quarter due to seasonal wind patterns.
All complainants who raised general aviation issues were affected by an aircraft conducting aerial survey work at altitudes between 1500 and 3000 feet in the greater Canberra area during March.
Emergency services operations affected the majority of complainants who raise helicopter issues.
During the quarter there were several military flypasts of C-17A Globemasters, F/A-18F Super Hornet, Hawk-127, C-27J Spartan and Navy helicopters, associated with the Sky Fire event and events at the Australian Defence Force academy. There was only one complainant who recorded concern about these events.
Nine suburbs had one complainant each in quarter one. In total thirteen separate suburbs had one or more complainants during quarter one. The suburbs which recorded the most complainants were Jerrabomberra with five complainants, Queanbeyan West with three complainants and Turner with two complainants.
Jerrabomberra was affected by Runway 35 arrivals and the aerial survey work. Three of the Jerrabomberra complainants were specifically concerned about the international flights. Queanbeyan West was also affected by Runway 35 arrivals, the military events and fixed wing circuit training.
Both Jerrabomberra and Queanbeyan West residents can be affected by both Runway 35 arrivals, when the wind has a more northerly component, and also by Runway 17 departures when the wind has a more southerly component. This is due to the alignment of these suburbs with the main runway. It is more likely that residents in the western-most areas of these suburbs will be disturbed more often.
Issues and suburbs
The total number of individual complainants for the 2016 calendar year was 46.
Chart 1: Issues 2016
The two main issues for 2016 were military activities (18 complainants) and flight path issues, including concerns that the flight path had changed or the desire that it be relocated (15 complainants).
Of those concerned about flight path issues, eight complainants were concerned with Runway 35 arrivals, and two complainants were affected by weather diversions.
Military operations attracted concern in both March and November with nine complainants raising this issue in each month.
Despite the increase in helicopter operations in 2016 (see Movements page) only five complainants raised issues associated with helicopters. In three of these cases the cause of concern was emergency helicopters. In the other two cases the helicopter was conducting airwork.
In 2016 there were five complainants from Jerrabomberra and four complainants each from Canberra, Hackett, Narrabundah and Ainslie.
Jerrabomberra and Narrabundah were affected by runway 35 arrivals. Narrabundah was also affected by weather diversions. Ainslie, Hackett, Canberra and Narrabundah were all affected by the military exercises.
In 2016 residents from 25 separate suburbs across the Canberra basin lodged complaints about aircraft operations. 14 suburbs recorded one complainant.
Issues and suburbs
Nineteen complainants raised issues during quarter 4 of 2016, up from seven complainants in quarter three.
Nine complainants were concerned about military exercises in their areas in November.
Five complainants were concerned about the late night international flights that began in September. Complainants from Jerrabomberra and Googong were concerned that this flight was not flying the right flight path. Most arrivals from the south use the “offset” approach, but the international flight uses the Instrument Landing System (ILS) approach which affects parts of these suburbs.
International operators generally require the ILS approach. This is the most stable approach because the aircraft is aligned with the runway well before landing. At the November Community Aviation Consultation Group meeting, Canberra Airport undertook to write to all airlines encouraging them to fly the offset approach wherever possible, however some airlines will have operational requirements for the ILS approach even in good weather.
Chart 1: Issues, quarter 4 2016
The suburbs that recorded the most complainants in quarter 4 was Jerrabomberra with five complainants. Complainants came from 14 suburbs. 11 of these suburbs recorded a single complainant. The military operation in November affected seven separate suburbs.
Issues and suburbs
Seven complainants raised four issues during quarter three of 2016. This is the same number of complainants as the previous quarter. There have been a total of 28 individual complainants so far in 2016.
The majority of complainants this quarter were located to the south of the airport and were concerned about arrivals to Runway 35. Due to prevailing winds Runway 35 was used the majority of the time in quarter three.
Chart 1: Issues, quarter three
Issues and suburbs
There were seven complainants during the second quarter. There have been a total of 23 individual complainants for the year to date.
Four issues were raised in quarter two as shown in the chart below. Each of the complainants came from a different suburb. Suburbs were located primarily to the south of the airport and complainants cited both departing and arriving flights. Because Runway 35 tends to be used more frequently than Runway 17, residents to the south of the airport will be more used to arriving flights. Therefore when Runway 17 is used and they experience departures it is likely to be more noticeable to them and may be perceived as a change.
Chart 1: Issues, quarter two
There were 19 complainants during quarter 1. This figure is unusually high due to a military training activity that took place over northern suburbs at night, attracting concern from nine complainants.
Aircraft movements at low level over Canberra suburbs are relatively unusual because most suburbs are situated within noise abatement areas. While aircraft will fly over these areas from time-to-time, the exercise on this occasion required the aircraft to remain in the area for an extended period which made the activity even more noticeable. Complaints about military activities can be made directly to the Department of Defence. You can also access an Ops Near Me page to check on activities in your area.
During periods of bad weather in January and February some diversions were required to allow aircraft to avoid storm cells or dangerous cloud formations. This placed aircraft over noise abatement areas which resulted in some residents contacting NCIS. Unfortunately in such circumstances this cannot be avoided.