Sydney Airport

Complaints

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.

April - June 2018

Complainants

There were 234 complainants in quarter two 2018. This is a decrease from 291 complainants in quarter one 2018, and is also a decrease from 251 complainants for the same period in 2017.

The decrease in numbers this quarter is due to fewer complainants raising issues about standard flight path movements, helicopters and curfew operations.

Issues

Standard flight path movements

The main issue in quarter two was again Standard flight path movements, which was raised by 84 percent or 196 complainants. As shown in Chart 1, in this quarter residents were equally concerned with aircraft operating on Runway 16 (Mode 10) and Runway 34 (Mode 9). Historically the use of Runway 16 declines in quarter two, with a corresponding increase in the use of Runway 34.

Of the complainants concerned with Runway 16 operations, the majority were concerned with arrivals; 52 percent with Runway 16 Left Arrivals, and 46 percent with Runway 16 Right Arrivals. The majority of complainants concerned with Runway 34 operations were concerned with Runway 34 Left Departures (71 percent).

Chart 1: Comparison of Q2 2018 with Q1 2018 of Runway directions and number of complainants

Chart showing number of complainants affected by runway direction in Quarter 1 and Quarter 2

The other main issues affecting complainants in quarter two were:

  • Unusual movements: nine percent of all complainants in quarter two raised the issue of unusual movements. This is an increase from six percent in quarter one. More than half of these complainants (57 percent) were affected by weather diversions. Diversions were due to seasonal weather patterns, including thunderstorms and strong winds
  • Curfew: emergency services operations and movements permitted during the curfew affected all complainants who raised this issue in quarter two
  • Helicopters: movement numbers in quarter two were around 610 per month. This is a significant decrease from around 860 movements each month in quarter one. This is also reflected in the complainant numbers; five in this quarter compared to 12 in quarter one.

Suburbs

In quarter two 124 separate suburbs across the greater Sydney basin recorded complainants. Nine suburbs recorded five or more complainants and 79 suburbs recorded a single complainant.

Chart 2: Suburbs with five or more complainants in quarter two and quarter one 2018

Chart showing suburbs with more than five complainants in quarter 1 or quarter 2

The suburbs recording the most complainants were Blaxland and Newtown with eight complainants, followed by Annandale with seven complainants and Emu Plains and Turramurra with six complainants each. Lane Cove, Lilyfield, Maroubra and Wentworth Falls all recorded five complainants. These suburbs are all under jet aircraft flight paths either approaching to land at Sydney Airport, or after departure from the airport.

Fifty percent of complainants from Newtown were concerned with Runway 16 Left Arrivals. The other complainants from Newtown were concerned with curfew operations, ground running, unusual movements, and a property purchase enquiry.

Runway 16 Left Arrivals was the concern of 86 percent of complainants from Annandale.

January - March 2018

Complainants

There were 291 complainants in quarter one 2018. This is an increase from 266 complainants in quarter four 2017, but is a decrease from 339 complainants for the same period in 2017.

This increase was due to an increased concern about Standard flight path movements, Helicopters and contacts not related to noise events, such as property purchase enquiries.

Issues

Standard flight path movements

The main issue of concern in quarter one was again Standard flight path movements, affecting 234 complainants or 80 percent of complainants. “Standard flight path movements” are defined as aircraft that are on the normal flight paths and within the expected altitude range. This category includes concerns about increased frequency of movements, the altitude of aircraft on the flight path, the location of the flight path, and the desire for the flight path to be moved.

As can be seen in Chart 1, in this quarter the main concern to residents were aircraft operating on Runway 16 or Mode 10. Of these complainants 58 percent of complainants were affected by operations to Runway 16 Right. Over the quarter Mode 10 was used considerably more than other Modes. This was due to the prevailing winds. Historically the use of Mode 10 increases in quarter one and begins to decline in quarter two. The Sydney Airport Operational Statistics show that Mode 10 was used:

  • 32 percent of the time in January
  • 52 percent of the time in February
  • 58 percent of the time in March
Chart 1: Runway directions and number of complainants affected, quarter one 2018 and quarter four 2017

Runway directions

There were limited opportunities for noise sharing in the quarter due to the prevailing winds, unavailability of the east-west runway and the high volume of traffic associated with the holiday peak seasons in January and around Easter.

Chart 2: Other issues and percentage of complainants affected quarter one

Other issues

Unusual movements

The majority of complainants concerned about unusual movements were affected by weather diversions. This is consistent with the strong southerly weather patterns which dominated the quarter.

Curfew

The complainants affected by this issue were all disturbed by permitted movements. Of these 46 percent were disturbed by emergency services operations.

Helicopters

The increase in complainants concerned with helicopter activities was mainly due to seasonal tourist activity, including Lunar New Year. Residents in the eastern suburbs were disturbed by an increase in helicopters using the normal tracking routes. Other areas were disturbed by survey (covering the light rail project) and media flights (covering visiting dignitaries and sporting events).

Suburbs

Complainants were recorded for 134 separate suburbs across the greater Sydney basin in quarter one. Seventy six suburbs recorded a single complainant, while 15 suburbs recorded five or more complainants.

Chart 3: Suburbs with five or more complainants quarter one 2018

Suburbs

The suburbs recording the most complainants were consistent with quarter four 2017.
Blaxland recorded 13 complainants, followed by Leichardt with 11 complainants and Maroubra with 10 complainants.

The majority of residents from the suburbs of Annandale, Drummoyne, Hunters Hill, Leichardt, Lilyfield, Newtown, Stanmore, Turramurra and West Pymble were all concerned with Mode 10 operations. This is due to the increased use of Mode 10 as explained previously. Of these suburbs, only Leichhardt had recorded five or more complainants in the previous quarter.

Maroubra and Mascot residents were disturbed by operations from Runway 34, unusual movements and helicopter operations.

2017 Overview

Complainants

There were 788 individual complainants in 2017. This is a decrease from 869 complainants in 2016.

Issues

The main issue in 2017, as can be seen in Chart 1 below, was Standard flight path movements, which affected 682 complainants. Curfew movements were the concern of 39 complainants and Helicopter operations affected 24 complainants.

Other issues include ground running at the airport, environmental concerns, military operations, information of flight paths for property purchases and contacts that were not noise related.

Chart 1: Main Issues 2017 and percentage of complainants affected

Issues

When the parallel runways are used entirely for the whole day with little or no noise sharing, complainant numbers increase. Information on noise sharing can be found in our factsheet: Key facts about noise sharing.

During 2017 due to required road works around the airport the cross runway 07/25 was either unable to be used entirely or was available for limited use only for extended periods in March and April and then shorter periods in August, September, October and December. This combined with strong weather patterns, especially in August and December, increased the use of the main parallel runways. More information on mode usage can be found in the Sydney Airport Operational Statistics Reports.

Chart 2 below shows the number of complainants and the runway direction that was the cause of their concern.

Chart 2: Runway direction and number of complainants affected 2017

Runway direction

Suburbs

Two hundred and twenty-seven suburbs across the greater Sydney basin recorded one or more complainants in 2017. Twenty one suburbs had ten or more complainants, 34 suburbs had between five and nine complainants and 83 suburbs had between two and four complainants. Eighty-nine suburbs recorded a single complainant.

In 2017, for most of the suburbs that recorded ten or more complainants, fewer complainants were recorded than in 2016. However twelve suburbs recorded an increase in complainants. This can be seen in Chart 3 below. The majority of these twelve suburbs are north of the airport. Drummoyne, Hunters Hill, Lane Cove, Lilyfield, Pymble, Turramurra and West Pymble. All of these suburbs are affected by Mode 10 usage.

In 2017 due to wind and weather requirements this mode was utilised 42% of time in 2017. In 2016 it was utilised 33% of time. Between the harbour and the Runway 16 thresholds in 2017 31% of all jet aircraft utilised this flight path. While this figure was only slightly less at 30% in 2016, it is the increased utilisation and lack of respite which is the most concern to complainants. These figures can be accessed here: Sydney Airport Operational Statistics Reports

The majority of Cronulla residents were affected by weather diversions.

Chart 3: Suburbs recording ten or more complainants in 2017 and 2016

Suburbs with 10 or more complainants

Chart 4: Suburbs with five or more complainants affected by Mode 9, 2017

Mode 9

Chart 5: Suburbs with five or more complainants affected by Mode 10, 2017

Mode 10

October - December 2017

Complainants

There were 266 complainants in quarter four 2017. This is a significant increase from 125 complainants in quarter three, and is also above the same period in 2016 when there were 218 complainants. This increase was due to increased concern regarding the issues of Standard flight path movements and Curfew. Weather was a major factor in these increases as is explained further below.

Chart 1 shows a trend in both 2016 and 2017 for decreasing complainant numbers in quarters two and three and a rise in complainant numbers in quarter four and quarter one of the next year.

Chart 1: Comparison of number of complainants each quarter for 2016 and 2017

Complainant comparison

Issues

The majority of complainants in quarter four, 84 percent, raised the issue of Standard flight path movements. Curfew issues was raised by seven percent of complainants, while Unusual movements was raised by six percent of complainants.

Standard flight path movements

Complainants raising the issue of Standard flight path movements were generally concerned with operations on the main north/south runways, Runways 16 Left and Right, and Runways 34 Left and Right. These runways are utilised in the peak hours as they enable a greater flow of air traffic. Aircraft track over the suburbs to the north of the airport when both of these runway combinations are in use.

The number of complainants raising this issue increased in quarter four. This was due to a number of factors including airport works which severely restricted the use of the east-west runway, Runway 07/25, for 10 days in November, and due to weather conditions that also restricted the use of noise sharing runway modes. In December a seasonal rise in aircraft movements occurred as airlines scheduled additional flights to meet the pre- and post-Christmas demand for air travel. This resulted in increased frequency of movements which contributed to complainant’s concerns.

During this quarter there was an increase in the use of Mode 10, where Runways 16 Left and Right are used, compared to the previous quarter, however Runways 34 Left and Right were still used to a greater extent.

The increase in use of Runway 16 Left and Right is reflected in the number of complainants raising concerns about Runway 16 operations, which increased to 33 percent of complainants raising this issue compared to 15 percent in quarter three. Complainants who were concerned with Runway 34 Left and Right operations decreased from 66 percent in quarter three to 54 percent in quarter four.

Chart 2: Runway directions and number of complainants affected in Standard flight path issues

Runway directions

Curfew

In quarter four of 2017 there were an increase in complainants raising the issue of Curfew. The majority of complainants raising this issue reside within 10 kilometres of the airport.

In this quarter there were 19 separate days where curfew dispensations were granted by the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, for passenger jet aircraft to either land or take-off during the curfew period. On a number of occasions where weather was an issue multiple dispensations were approved; on one occasions 13 dispensations were approved. This instance resulted in 10 complainants.

Most complainants raising this issue were concerned with permitted operations in the curfew hours at the airport. These include low-noise freight aircraft and a number of small business jets as well as passenger aircraft that have received a dispensation. Other complainants were concerned with emergency services operations.

Unusual movements

The majority of complainants raising this issue were concerned with aircraft on weather diversions, where the track taken by the aircraft was unusual so that it could avoid bad weather.

Suburbs

Complainants from 128 separate suburbs across the greater Sydney basin recorded issues in quarter four. A single complainant was recorded from 71 suburbs, while 11 suburbs recorded five or more complainants.

The suburb recording the most complainants was Blaxland with 14 complainants, followed by Maroubra with 12 complainants. Leichhardt recorded eight complainants while Marrickville and Pymble each recorded six complainants.

Maroubra is located five kilometres to the east of the airport and is overflown by some aircraft on departure off Runway 34 Right, where the aircraft have destinations to the south. When the east west runway is in use residents may also be affected by either Runway 07 departures or Runway 25 arrivals. There is also a helicopter route along the coastline that may affect some residents. In quarter four 85 percent of Maroubra complainants were concerned with Runway 34 Right departures.

Leichhardt and Marrickville are overflown by aircraft both arriving onto Runway 16 Right and departing off Runway 34 Left. Many of these aircraft are larger passenger jets. Pymble is overflown by arrivals on to Runways 16 Left and Right.

Blaxland is situated approximately 50 kilometres to the northwest of Sydney Airport. The area is primarily overflown by some jet departures off Runway 34 Left and Runway 16 Right, with these aircraft generally above 10,000ft by the time they reach the suburb.

July - September 2017

Complainants

There were 125 complainants in the third quarter of 2017. This is a significant decrease from 251 complainants in the second quarter, and is also below the same period in 2016 when there were 166 complainants.

There have been 602 individual complainants for the year to date.

Issues

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 be used for commercial aircraft operating outside their usual flight paths. Examples of unusual movements will include weather diversions, traffic management, radar departures 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.

Chart 1: Issues and number of complainants who raised them

Issues

As shown in chart 1 above, standard flight path movements were the main cause of concern to complainants in quarter three; this issue affected 86 per cent of complainants.

The unusual movements complained of all aircraft operating on radar departures rather than the Standard Instrument Departure (SID) route. A radar departure is used by air traffic control when weather diversions are required or for traffic management reasons to ensure safe operating procedures are maintained.

The complainants concerned about night movements were residents in the eastern suburbs disturbed by use of the noise sharing mode, Mode 5, and in particular aircraft that arrived just prior to the curfew.

The issues classified as not noise related or other information requests included requests for information regarding a property purchase, local council advice and airline information.

Chart 2: Flight path issues, the runway direction used and number of complainants affected

Flight path issues

Mode 9 departures, or departures from Runways 34 Right and 34 Left, affected 66 per cent of complainants who raised the issue of standard flight path movements. In quarter three limited noise sharing occurred over 70 percent of the quarter. Due to inclement weather, strong winds, the amount of air traffic programmed for the airport and other factors noise sharing only took place in the early morning or late evening, and frequently was not possible at all. Non-weather-related factors that limited noise sharing included

  • the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) conducted navigation aid calibration testing at the airport affecting which runways could be used
  • a bushfire in the Kurnell area necessitated the use of Runway 25 only to ensure that aircraft operating at Sydney Airport remained clear of water bombing aircraft
  • the Sydney Marathon event in September required slight amendments for air traffic departing to the north to avoid helicopters covering the event

Suburbs

Eighty four separate suburbs across the greater Sydney basin recorded complainants in the quarter. Sixty suburbs recorded a single complainant.

The suburb recording the most complainants was Kingsford with eight complainants. Mascot and Maroubra recorded three complainants each. The majority of Kingsford residents were affected by Runway 25 arrivals, however, Runway 34 Right departures affected all three suburbs. Paddington was also affected by Runway 34 Right departures and also recorded three complainants.

Residents in the Blue Mountains area continue to be concerned by heavy international aircraft, with Blaxland recording six complainants and Emu Plains recording five.

April - June 2017

Complainants

There were 251 complainants in the second quarter of 2017. This is a significant decrease from 339 complainants in the first quarter, and is also below the same period in 2016 when there were 303 complainants. In total for the year-to-date there have been 527 individual complainants. Twenty-seven of these complainants contacted us in both quarter one and quarter two.

The decrease in the number of complainants since last quarter is due to the easing of the poor weather conditions and strong southerly winds that resulted in significant use of Mode 10 during quarter one. The east-west runway also became available again after a period of restricted use (see quarter one).

Issues

Flight path issues continued to be the main cause of concern, including increased frequency, a perceived change to the flight path or concern about its location, and altitude issues.

Chart 1: Issues

Issues

Where flight path issues were raised, these were split fairly evenly between concerns related to Runway 16 Left and Right (66 complainants) and Runway 34 Left and Right (64 complainants), as can be seen in Chart 2.

Chart 2: Runway directions

Runways

Eight complainants were concerned about helicopter activities. Three of these complainants were concerned with helicopter activity associated with race meetings at Randwick Racecourse and a further three complainants were concerned with a helicopter doing aerial photography in the Riverwood area.

Suburbs

Complainants from 125 separate suburbs raised issues in the quarter. Ten suburbs had five or more complainants, with most of these suburbs situated around the airport.

Coogee had eight complainants who all raised issues with Runway 25 arrivals. Coogee was affected on 39 days by arrivals onto Runway 25; the runway had 1842 arrivals in the quarter. Sydney’s seasonal wind patterns mean that Runway 25 tends to be used more frequently in the cooler months. Generally it is only used in non-peak times for the airport, unless the wind precludes use of any other runway direction.

Marrickville also had eight complainants. This suburb is affected by Runway 16 Right arrivals, Runway 34 Left departures and night movements. In this quarter there were approximately 20,000 movements over the suburb.

Other suburbs with more than five complainants were Cronulla, Maroubra and Mascot with seven complainants each, and Randwick with six complainants.

Cronulla was affected by weather diversions on a number of days in the quarter and complainants from a number of suburbs south of the airport including Cronulla raised this issue with regard to Runway 16 Right departures. In normal weather conditions Cronulla is not directly overflown.

Complainants in Mascot raised issues about Runway 25 arrivals as well as Runway 34 Right departures.

The majority of complainants from Maroubra were concerned with Runway 34 Right departures as well as helicopter issues. A helicopter route to the airport from the coast tracks over parts of Maroubra.

Randwick complainants raised issues about Runway 25 arrivals, Runway 34 Right departures and helicopter filming at Randwick Racecourse.

Chart 3 shows that more than half of the 125 suburbs where complainants resided had only one complainant (68 suburbs).

Chart 3: Number of complainants per suburb

Complainants per suburb

January - March 2017

There were 339 complainants in the first quarter of 2017. This is a significant increase from the fourth quarter of 2016 (218) but below quarter one of 2016 (439).

Issues

The key issue of the quarter was increased use of Mode 10 – arrivals from the north and departures to the south. This increased use had two causes. Firstly, poor weather conditions including significant rain and storms accompanied by prolonged periods of southerly winds meant that the parallel runways had to be used in a southerly direction to allow aircraft to take off and land into the wind.

Secondly, the east-west runway was unavailable for part of the quarter due to roadworks being conducted outside the airport boundary which required the use of cranes. The cranes presented a safety hazard to aviation and as such the runway could not be used. This severely constrained the opportunities for noise sharing. However, the weather conditions were such that it is unlikely much noise sharing could have occurred even if the east-west runway had been available.

As a result of both these factors, Mode 10 was used for more than nine hours on 16 days in each of January and February and on 19 days in March. Mode 9 was used for more than nine hours on 12 days in January, and 11 days in each of February and March.

159 complainants raised issues relating to the increased use of Mode 10 during the quarter. Sixty-four complainants were concerned with Mode 9 use.

Chart 1: Runway directions complained of, quarter one 2017
Runway directions complained of

Weather diversions were also an issue in the quarter with 28 complainants concerned that aircraft were flying off their usual flight paths. This can occur for a number of reasons but in these cases was due to the need to avoid flying through bad weather such as storms cells and dangerous cloud formations.

Suburbs

Complainants from 126 suburbs raised concerns in quarter one. The majority of these suburbs lie under either the Runway 16R/16L arrival paths or the Runway 34L/34R departure paths.

The suburbs affected by Mode 10 arrivals with more than five complainants were Drummoyne (14 complainants), Hunters Hill (10), Turramurra (9), Lane Cove and West Pymble (8 each), Riverview (7) and Newtown and Wahroonga (6 each).

Suburbs affected by Mode 9 with more than five complainants included Blaxland (13 complainants), Glenbrook (12) and Woodford (6).

Suburbs such as Leichardt (9 complainants), Marrickville (8) and Mascot (7) are affected by more than one runway mode.

Cronulla (9 complainants) and Bundeena (8) were affected by weather diversions.

2016 Overview

The total number of individual complainants for 2016 was 869.

Issues

Chart 1: Issues for 2016

Issues 2016

The main issues for 2016 were concerns related to flight paths – increased frequency of movements, perceptions that something had changed, and the desire for flight paths to be moved. In total 698 complainants raised these issues.

One contributing factor to these concerns was the number of days where a single runway mode was used for more than nine hours.This was the case for 315 days of 2016. When weather conditions or other factors limit mode selection to a single mode there is always a spike in complainants from affected areas regardless of which mode is used.

For 311 days, the mode used for more than nine hours a day was either Mode 9 (189 days) or Mode 10 (121 days). These modes utilise the parallel runways and are always used during busy periods to allow the most aircraft to be moved through the airport. Increasing use of these modes reflects the fact that Sydney Airport’s busy periods are increasing in duration as the volume of traffic rises. It is also due to the fact that Sydney’s prevailing winds are northerlies and southerlies, sometimes at strengths that do not allow other runway modes to be implemented.

Chart 2: Number of days with mode usage in excess of 9 hours, 2016

Suburbs

247 suburbs across the greater Sydney basin recorded one or more complainants in 2016. Nineteen suburbs had ten or more complainants and 32 suburbs had between five and nine complainants. 83 suburbs had between two and four complainants with a further 113 suburbs having one complainant each.

The suburbs with the most complainants were Maroubra (38), Blaxland (36), Glenbrook (31), Marrickville (23) and Bexley (20).

Chart 3: Suburbs with ten or more complainants, 2016

Suburbs with ten or more complainants

Of the suburbs that had ten or more complainants, four are within a five kilometre radius of the airport (Mascot, Marrickville, Alexandria and Bexley), eight are within a ten kilometre radius (Kurnell, Matraville, Maroubra, Paddington, Stanmore, Leichhardt, Annandale and Croydon) and three are within a fifteen kilometre radius (Cronulla, Concord, Hunters Hill). One is in the 25 to 30 kilometre zone (Wahroonga). The other three suburbs are within a 55 to 60 kilometre radius of the airport (Blaxland, Glenbrook and Mount Riverview).

Of the 51 suburbs with five or more complainants, more than half (29) are affected by Mode 9 use (departures to the north, arrivals from the south). Eighteen suburbs are affected by Mode 10 (arrivals from the north and departures to the south). Five suburbs are affected by both these modes – Tempe, Marrickville, Kurnell and Leichhardt. Four suburbs are affected by Mode 5 and two suburbs are affected by both Modes 7 and 14a. Five suburbs were affected by helicopter routes in addition to at least one mode.

Chart 4: Suburbs with five or more complainants affected by Mode 9, 2016

Chart 5: Suburbs with five or more complainants affected by Mode 10, 2016

October - December 2016

Issues

There were 218 complainants for the fourth quarter of 2016, up from 166 complainants in the third quarter but below quarters one and two. The two main issues raised in the quarter were increased frequency and flight path issues. This continues the trend of the year to date and is consistent with quarter three. Increased frequency was raised by 95 complainants and perceptions that something had changed, or the wish for a change of flight path, was recorded by 88 complainants. Of these complainants:

  • 82 were affected by departures from Runway 34 Left and 21 by departures from Runway 34 Right
  • 25 were affected by arrivals to Runway 16 Left and 21 by arrivals to Runway 16 Right
  • Four were affected by departures from Runway 25 and nine by arrivals to Runway 25
  • Two were affected by arrivals to Runway 07

Concerns about arrivals to Runway 25 were raised by residents from Clovelly, Coogee and Kingsford. This stems from use of Mode 5 (arrivals from the east to the east-west runway) in October, however use was low in relative terms at 1.9 per cent for the month.

July - September 2016

Issues

166 complainants raised issues during the third quarter of 2016. This is almost half the number in quarter two (303) and significantly less than quarter one (439).

Due to strong northerly and southerly winds during this quarter there were 67 days where little or no noise sharing was achieved. Aircraft performance requirements make it necessary for aircraft to depart and land into wind for safety purposes. When noise sharing did occur it was limited to the periods 6.00 am to 7.00 am and after 8.00 pm. Prolonged use of the parallel runways is a concern to residents who are familiar with the noise sharing targets and/or live in affected suburbs. The pie charts below show that a significant proportion of concerns were about use of Runway 34 Left and Right. This reflects the fact that Mode 9 was used most frequently in the quarter.

Two issues were raised more frequently than others:

  • Change of, different or location of flight path
  • Increased frequency

Change of, different or location of flight path

74 complainants were concerned that the flight path was located over their area, or felt that the flight path had changed, or was different from usual. There have been no changes in flight paths in Sydney but the lack of noise sharing contributed to the view that something had changed.

Chart 1: Breakdown of change of, different or location of flight path issue
“YSSY” is the airport code for Sydney. The numbers (34, 16, 07 etc) refer to runway directions.

Increased frequency

64 complainants were concerned about increased frequency of movements. The main underlying reason is the limited noise sharing as explained above.

Chart 2: Breakdown of increased frequency issue
“YSSY” is the airport code for Sydney. The numbers (34, 16, 07 etc) refer to runway directions.

Suburbs

In quarter three there were two suburbs with five or more complainants; Blaxland (7) and Maroubra (9). Both of these suburbs are provided with some respite during noise sharing modes, however noise sharing was limited during this quarter as explained above.

Blaxland and surrounding suburbs in the Blue Mountains are affected by aircraft that depart Sydney Airport from Runway 34L and head north-west. While aircraft have generally attained altitudes from 9,000 to 20,000 feet by the time they reach the Blue Mountains, the lack of background noise makes these noticeable to some residents. This flight path has been in use for many years but recent media reports about the potential effect of Western Sydney Airport on the Blue Mountains region have sensitised some in the area.

Maroubra is affected by aircraft that depart Sydney Airport from Runway 34R. Nearly all domestic jet aircraft depart this runway when Mode 9 is in use. Additionally Maroubra is affected by helicopters that track via the Maroubra KOPTER Route, which is one of several special helicopter routes which enables air traffic control to process helicopters into and out of Sydney Airport safely without disruption to jet traffic. Maroubra can also be affected by aircraft departing Runway 16L when weather diversions are required.

April - June 2016

Issues

There were 303 complainants this quarter. Two issues were raised more frequently than any others:

  • Increased frequency
  • Change of, different or location of flight path

Increased frequency

147 complainants were concerned about increased frequency of movements. These complainants were aware that they were situated under or near flight paths but had noticed an increase in use. This was generally due to variations in runway and mode use due to seasonal wind patterns.

Chart 1: Breakdown of Increased frequency issues raised

“YSSY” is the airport code for Sydney. The numbers (34, 16, 07 etc) refer to runway directions.

Pie chart showing that the majority of complainants were concerned about departures from Runway 34L

Change of, different or location of flight path

97 complainants had concerns that the flight path was located over their area, or felt that the flight path had changed, or was different from usual. There have been no changes to flight paths in Sydney. However seasonal variations in runway mode usage create the perception that something has changed. For example, Mode 7 tends to be used more frequently in the cooler months due to seasonal wind patterns. This results in more complainants from suburbs affected by departures from Runway 25.

Chart 2: Breakdown of Change of/different/location of flight path issues raised

“YSSY” is the airport code for Sydney. The numbers (34, 16, 07 etc) refer to runway directions.

Pie chart showing that arrival and departure operations from Runways 34L and 34R were the main concern.

Suburbs

Complainants from suburbs located in the Blue Mountains including Blaxland, Katoomba, Glenbrook, Springwood, Lapstone, Woodford, and Warrimoo raised both these issues (Increased frequency and Change of, different or location of flight path).

The Blue Mountains is affected by aircraft that depart Sydney Airport from Runway 34L and head north-west. While aircraft have generally attained altitudes from 9,000 to 20,000 feet by the time they reach the Blue Mountains, the lack of background noise in the area makes these noticeable to some residents. This flight path has been in use for many years but recent media reports about the potential effect of Western Sydney Airport on the Blue Mountains region has heightened the sensitivity of some residents in the area.

Suburbs to the west of the east-west runway also raised these issues (Increased frequency and Change of, different or location of flight path), including Bexley, Bardwell Valley and Arncliffe. The east-west runway is primarily used for noise sharing. In this quarter, seasonal wind patterns meant that the runway was used more frequently for departures (Mode 7 – departures from Runway 25). This is typical for this time of year. However, because Mode 7 use is usually reduced before and after this quarter, residents may perceive the increase in use of this mode as some type of change.

Bad weather in April required aircraft to be given weather diversions to enable them to avoid storm cells or dangerous cloud formations. This led to aircraft diverting over suburbs not normally overflown including Little Bay, Malabar, Sans Souci, Caringbah and Bundeena. Weather diversions occur for safety reasons and are required on occasion.

January - March 2016

Issues

There were 439 complainants this quarter. The main issues were:

  • Flight path
  • Runway selection

Flight Path

Chart 1: Breakdown of Flight Path issues raised

“YSSY” is the airport code for Sydney. The numbers (34, 16, 07 etc) refer to runway directions.
Pie chart showing that the majority of complainants were concerned about increased frequency.

Runway Selection

Chart 2: Breakdown of Runway Selection issues raised

“YSSY” is the airport code for Sydney. The numbers (34, 16, 07 etc) refer to runway directions.
Pie chart showing the majority of complainants were concerned about Mode 9 and Mode 10 use

Please note: During the quarter the set of issues and case descriptors underwent change in order to better describe the concerns of complainants. Two issues that appear in the results this quarter, Flight Path and Runway Selection, were deleted and the case descriptors Increased frequency and Change of/different/location of flight path were elevated to issues. 344 complainants raised these issues overall.

Suburbs

Overall, complainant numbers increased in this quarter compared to the previous one. This is typically due to more people being on holidays during this time and are at home to notice aircraft movements.

In January and February Mode 10 was used frequently due to southerly winds. This affected suburbs close to the airport such as Leichhardt, Drummoyne, and Hunters Hill as well as suburbs further away such as Turramurra and Wahroonga. In aviation terms all these suburbs are within a couple of minutes flying time of the runways. Inner west suburbs such as Stanmore, Concord, Summer Hill and Ashfield were affected by high usage of Mode 9 in March.

Mode 14a (arrivals from the west and departures to the south) was used regularly in the quarter affecting Bexley and other suburbs to the west of the east-west runway.

Complainant numbers from suburbs in the Blue Mountains continued to rise. This increase has occurred since the release of the Environmental Impact Statement for the new Western Sydney Airport. Sensitivity about potential future noise impacts has resulted in increased attention on current aircraft movements from this area.