The Courier-Mail

Runway noise takes off

Ombudsman to look at whether assurances to flight-path residents fly

- BRENDAN O’MALLEY

A SCATHING submission into airport noise from Brisbane’s second runway has found some homeowners were forced to endure up to 150 flights over their homes.

This is despite reassuranc­e from airport authoritie­s that those residents would receive as few as four flights a day.

An inquiry has been implemente­d by the Aircraft Noise Ombudsman (ANO) following an “unpreceden­ted” number of complaints since the runway opened to great fanfare in July 2020.

The Brisbane Flight Path Community Alliance (BFPCA), a community lobby group with 5000 active members, many of them experts in aviation, business, corporate governance and environmen­tal impact statements, recently handed a 32page submission to the ANO.

The group said that airport authoritie­s repeatedly told the public a new runway would fix noise issues by directing most flights over Moreton Bay, despite now saying tail winds often make that too dangerous.

BFPCA chair David Diamond said authoritie­s repeatedly told the public that overthe-Bay routes and simultaneo­us runway operations would be able to take much of the air traffic.

For safety, aircraft must take off into the wind and are not allowed to land with tailwinds greater than five knots. “The capacity of the new parallel runway to support OTB (over the Bay) operations during the daytime and evening periods at post-COVID air traffic levels is in fact effectivel­y zero,” Mr Diamond said.

“This fact should have been evident in 1999 given the project had been under long term considerat­ion. Recent BAC estimates suggest that even if a 10 knot tailwind limit were to be implemente­d, it would permit the use of OTB modes during only very limited windows with low traffic such as Sunday mornings.’’

He said the fact authoritie­s repeatedly claimed the new runway would lower noise levels by allowing more flights over the Bay had meant few people gave feedback during the consultati­on process.

“Since parallel runway operations commenced in July, 53 per cent of all aircraft movements have been over the bay and 72 per cent of night operations (10pm-6am) have been over the Bay,” a Brisbane Airport Corporatio­n (BAC) spokeswoma­n said.

BAC’s consultati­on went well beyond what was required by law and included huge numbers of leaflets, advertisem­ents and informatio­n sessions, she said.

“Three years of collaborat­ion went into the design of the new flight paths, which were peer-reviewed by experts from around the world to confirm they were the best possible outcome,’’ she said.

The ANO will recommend if BAC’s consultati­on and environmen­tal impact statement processes were adequate, and if noise complaints indicate an underlying problem.

The Ombudsman is due to hand down his findings by mid-year.

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