Flight path tur­bu­lence

Central Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By JOE DAW­SON

NEW flight paths be­ing tri­alled by Auck­land Air­port are ril­ing those who say they are caus­ing loud dis­rup­tions in their neigh­bour­hoods.

Some in­com­ing flights are ap­proach­ing the air­port in a dif­fer­ent way in an ef­fort to cut emis­sions and pro­vide some respite for the com­mu­ni­ties liv­ing around the air­port.

The trial be­gan last Novem­ber and uses what are known as ‘‘SMART ap­proaches’’ which the air­port says could re­sult in fewer miles be­ing flown by planes, re­duc­tion in fuel con­sump­tion and car­bon emis­sions and bet­ter noise man­age­ment for com­mu­ni­ties that live close to the air­port.

But while those liv­ing nearer to the air ter­mi­nals may find the changes an im­prove­ment, oth­ers are less pleased.

Epsom woman Toni Walker says she and neigh­bours on Coro­na­tion Rd have no­ticed a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in noise from planes pass­ing over­head, es­pe­cially in the last six weeks.

She is pre­par­ing a pe­ti­tion to take to the air­port ask­ing for the orig­i­nal flight paths to be re­stored.

‘‘Some­thing sig­nif­i­cant has changed in the weeks,’’ she says.

‘‘We’ve got to the point where we’re sit­ting in­side at 10am on a Satur­day morn­ing with no win­dows open and it sounds like there is a lawn­mower run­ning next door.

‘‘It’s re­ally de­stroy­ing the at­mos­phere in the area.’’

Auck­land Air­port air­field sys­tems and stan­dards con­troller Matthew Pal­liser says Epsom is not un­der the new flight paths which are de­signed to make bet­ter use of the un­pop­u­lated Manukau Har­bour and light in­dus­trial

past

six ar­eas. The air­port is look­ing into Mrs Walker’s com­plaints.

Mr Pal­liser says un­til a full in­ves­ti­ga­tion is com­plete he can’t be sure about what might be caus­ing the in­creased noise lev­els.

One pos­si­bil­ity is an in­crease in east­erly winds re­cently which are not the pre­vail­ing breeze in Auck­land.

‘‘At this stage we just want to ver­ify what Toni and the res­i­dents are say­ing is hap­pen­ing,’’ Mr Pal­liser says.

‘‘She will pro­vide us with a list of times she thinks a flight has gone over­head and we will ver­ify it against the radar data.

‘‘Once she gives us the times and de­tails of the air­craft they have ob­served we’ll also com­pare it with last year’s data.’’

That will de­ter­mine where planes have flown and whether the flight paths have changed. The air­port also plans to use acous­tic con­sul­tants Mar­shall Day to as­sess the noise lev­els at some properties.

‘‘A noise mon­i­tor is a good way to get an ob­jec­tive read­ing.

‘‘The whole rea­son we do it on a trial is be­cause we want feed­back from the com­mu­nity.’’

The trial is an ini­tia­tive of Auck­land Air­port, Air New Zealand and Air­ways New Zealand. It is be­ing tested around the world with the aim of re­duc­ing fuel con- sump­tion and emis­sions.

An on­line in­for­ma­tion page says the new air­craft ap­proaches take ad­van­tage of highly ac­cu­rate satel­lite­based nav­i­ga­tion to cre­ate curved flight paths that bring the fi­nal ap­proach to the run­way closer to the air­port.

Th­ese ap­proaches cre­ate a more con­tin­u­ous de­scent, with the en­gines’ power set­tings at or close to idle which re­duces the noise level.

‘‘Pi­lots can close the throt­tle and fol­low a nice smooth arc with en­gines at idle power,’’ Mr Pal­liser says.

Mrs Walker says she is wor­ried the trial may be deemed a suc­cess and the new flight paths could have a per­ma­nent im­pact.

Photo: LAWRENCE SMITH

New ap­proach: Auck­land Air­port is tri­alling new ap­proaches to its run­way to cut fuel use and noise lev­els.

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