Melbourne Airport

Investigations & Community Consultation

Airservices proactively works with the airport and the community to investigate, trial and implement changes to improve aircraft noise outcomes.

When considering flight path changes that have the potential to provide noise improvements, safety is always the primary consideration. The efficient operation of the airport is also a key factor taken into account. The effect on the community of any proposal is always considered holistically. Proposals that shift noise from one part of the community to another generally are not considered to be noise improvements unless they clearly provide a reduction in overall noise impacts.

For more information about how air traffic control works, see our easy-to-understand booklet, Guide to our operations.

Investigations conducted at Melbourne Airport include:

Helicopter activities

Filming at the MCG
Airservices followed-up complaints about helicopters hovering over the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) during sporting events. Helicopter operators advised the low winter sun often prevents filming from the south of the ground during the AFL season. Therefore on-ground advertising during the AFL season is orientated so that it is best viewed from the north, which is why helicopters tend to hover to the north of the ground (over residential areas).

The operators agreed to hover to the south whenever possible, and when filming from the north they will try as far as possible to hover over the park north of the MCG and not over residential areas. In addition, operators already try to use their quietest helicopters for operations over the MCG.

Traffic helicopters
Airservices contacted the traffic helicopter operator about these activities. The operator flies as high as possible to minimise noise to residents and has zoom lenses to enable filming from 1500 feet. The minimum altitude over residential areas is 1000 feet, although the operator has a dispensation from CASA to fly lower if required. This is rare. The helicopter has been fitted with mufflers to minimise noise to residents. Sometimes air traffic control require the helicopter to fly below 1500 feet or to hover to remain out of the way of regular aircraft traffic to and from Melbourne Airport. Otherwise, hovering is avoided whenever possible. In the morning, traffic reporting activities are usually finished by 9.00 am and in the evening by 6.00 pm.

Yarra River helipads
Following complaints from residents affected by helicopters operating to and from the Yarra River helipads, Airservices worked with helicopter operators to encourage them to minimise noise. Operators agreed, wherever possible, to use their quieter helicopters, to restrict the times they use the helipads and to try to avoid overflight of noise-sensitive areas.

The Yarra River helipads are outside controlled airspace. The are which the helipads occupy is under the control of Parks Victoria.

More information about helicopter operations

Runway 16 early turns

Following an increase in complaints about early turns of jet departures from Runway 16 during quarter 4 of 2013, Airservices contacted airlines about the problem. Airlines have reminded their pilots that aircraft taking off from Runway 16 for destinations to the north and east should only turn to the west once they have reached a waypoint four nautical miles (roughly seven kilometres) south of the airport. Airservices will continue to monitor this issue. Most subsequent instances of this have been found to be due to air traffic control instructions for traffic management reasons.

Runway 16 departures over Caroline Springs

The proposal was that an alternative flight path be designed off Runway 16 to utilise farm land and avoid Caroline Springs. Investigation found that this would increase noise impacts for St Albans and Sunshine North which are densely populated areas. Therefore more residents would be affected by this proposed change than would receive noise improvements. Airservices considers that noise improvements must be of benefit to the community as a whole and must clearly provide a reduction in overall noise impacts.

No opportunities were identified during this investigation that would provide an overall reduction in noise impacts. Caroline Springs is benefited at present by the Noise Abatement Procedures at Melbourne Airport which make Runway 16 departures the fourth preference.

Runway 16 departures over St Albans and Ardeer
Airservices explored the possibility of moving further south the point at which aircraft turn west after departure from Runway 16. After making this turn aircraft pass over St Albans. The investigation found that this was not feasible for two reasons. While it would result in benefits for Ardeer and St Albans, it would move the traffic and noise to Sunshine. In addition, aircraft would remain on the runway heading for longer and this would hamper efficient operations. The current procedure allows air traffic control to clear the next aircraft for take-off after the previous one has made the turn. If aircraft maintain the runway heading for longer, this means that more time must elapse before the aircraft behind can take off which would slow down the throughput of aircraft. The proposal was found to be unfeasible because it was not considered to be a noise improvement overall and for efficiency reasons.

Community Consultation

Community Aviation Consultation Group (CACG) meetings are independent forums where community members and organisations can raise opinions and issues. These meetings address planning and development issues as well as operational matters such as aircraft noise and provide an opportunity for communication and consultation, although may not be public forums.

Airservices attends the Melbourne Airport Community Aviation Consultation Group (CACG) meetings to provide information to the community and assist in discussions on aviation matters.