Complaints unfounded says airport
New flight paths being trialled by Auckland Airport are not causing significant extra noise to central Auckland communities, those running the trials say.
The flight paths – known as SMART Approaches – are designed to improve the approaches to the airport so planes fly fewer miles and use less fuel.
The trials have sparked complaints from some central Auckland residents who say the new paths bring more planes and their associated noise over their formerly quiet neighbourhoods.
People in One Tree Hill, Epsom, Mt Roskill, Onehunga and Royal Oak have told the Central Leader they have noticed an increase in aircraft noise since the year-long trial began in November last year.
But Auckland Airport aeronautical operations manager Judy Nicholl says their research shows the SMART Approaches have had little discernable impact on those neighbourhoods.
She is adamant the trials have been conducted within its parameters of 10 flights a day, with only three airlines participating between 7am and 10pm, despite complaints from many that they have been woken at all hours of the day.
‘‘It’s very difficult,’’ Ms Nicholl says. ‘‘People believe planes are flying lower but they’re not. They’re flying the tracks they have been flying for many years.’’
She says in the first 21 weeks of the trial the airport received no complaints about the SMART approaches.
Following the publication of an article about the trial in the Central Leader on May 3 the airport has received 111 complaints.
But of those only 11 related to planes flying in the SMART approaches, with the bulk generated by aircraft using normal flight paths above Auckland.
Noise monitoring in Epsom and the surrounding area had also shown the impact of SMART approaches is between two and four decibels, a difference ceptible to the ear’’.
A ‘‘heightened awareness’’ of aircraft noise since the trial was publicised could be responsible, Ms Nicholl says.
But Royal Oak man Mark Lynes is adamant that something has changed in the skies above.
He has lived in the same house
‘‘only just per- for 11 years and says until now plane noise was minimal.
Now ‘‘planes are flying so low you can almost see what the cabin crew is wearing’’. ‘‘Something has changed.’’ Epsom woman Robyn Scott is certain something is different.
‘‘Why is it that this time last year you neither heard nor saw a plane overhead, but now 35 a day are flying at heights that are intrusive?’’ The trial concludes in October. Ms Nicholl says it would be wrong to make any assumptions about the results of the trial while it is still under way.
Airport’ Judy Nicholl, Auckland
Testing time: New flight paths are being trialled by Auckland Airport.
Adamant: Auckland Airport aeronautical operations manager Judy Nicholl.