Plane speaking: Report offers no quick fix to Brisbane Airport noise problems

Brisbane residents tormented by aircraft noise since the opening of Brisbane Airport’s parallel runway may be in for some relief after authorities urged a shakeup of flight paths to help fix the problem.

Aug 22, 2022, updated Aug 22, 2022
Image: Artturi Jalli/Unsplash

Image: Artturi Jalli/Unsplash

A comprehensive report into the impacts of aircraft noise has recommended the airport try to maximise the number of take-offs and landings over Moreton Bay rather than over Brisbane suburbs.

The report, commissioned by Airservices Australia, says Brisbane Airport Corporation should work better with community groups, airlines and government agencies to ensure noise is minimised.

However, it stops short of urging a cap on the number of flights or a nighttime curfew on flights to tackle the problem.

Instead the report suggests BAC to produce a “long term noise action plan” that includes measures other than redesigning flight paths and approach the Defence department to share airspace with the RAAF base at Amberley.

“Proposals to modify the existing flight paths over communities in the city and outer suburbs should follow a transparent and coherent process to evaluate the impacts of different options…” the report states.

However, its proposed solutions are likely to take years to fully introduce and even then the noise will be spread across the city rather than being concentrated over a handful of suburbs

It says the airport should “conduct meaningful engagement with all affected stakeholders about the trade-offs if change proposals to deliver improvements create new noise impacts or other negative outcomes”.

Since Brisbane airport’s new runway opened in July 2020, residents living under flight paths from Samford on Brisbane’s outskirts to inner city New Farm and Bulimba have complained about increased aircraft noice.

The Airport Noise Ombudsman has received hundreds of complaints ands community group the Brisbane Flight Path Community Alliance insists the way the runway is being used is causing mental distress for thousands of residents.

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“When viewed collectively, the complaints highlight the community’s general expectation that the NPR would lead to a larger share of Brisbane traffic arriving and departing over water and their concerns that the noise impacts in the city and surrounding suburbs are greater than expected,” the report said.

BAC’s chief executive Gert-Jan de Graaff said he welcomed the report.

“Brisbane Airport wants to minimise the impact on our neighbouring communities. We welcome this independent report and look forward to working with all partners including airlines to reduce noise for residents,” he said.

“One of the ways to reduce aircraft noise for residents who live under the flight paths is to increase the number of flights that arrive and depart over Moreton Bay, with BNE eager to see this increased.“

The new runway has dramatically increased the airport’s capacity, with flights forecast to reach their pre-pandemic level of 200,000 a year by 2025 before rocketing to about 520,000 a year by 2054.

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