Why is there a plane going overhead when I don’t live underneath a flight path?

Although flight paths often appear as straight lines on maps, in reality they are corridors that can be several kilometres wide. Factors such as aircraft type, weight and weather conditions determine exactly where aircraft fly within corridors.

From the ground it can appear that an aircraft is flying on the ‘wrong’ or a ‘new’ flight path, which is rarely the case. Occasionally, air traffic controllers ask pilots to fly outside normal flight paths for operational reasons, but this is quite rare.

Why am I suddenly getting more aircraft going over my house than previously?

Aircraft take off and land into the wind, or with minimal tail wind. As a result, the wind direction dictates the selection of runway(s) in use at any time. This in turn determines which flight paths are used. Winds at many Australian airports are seasonal, tending to blow from one direction in summer and another in winter. This means that runway use also tends to be seasonal. As a result, suburbs aligned with runways will experience more noise from aircraft at some times of the year than at others.

Why are planes allowed to go overhead so low?

Most aircraft are not allowed to fly less than 1000ft, approximately 300m,  above residential areas. In practice, flight paths (which are vertical and horizontal corridors) tend to be much higher above residential areas than 1000ft, approximately 300m. Additionally, aircraft occasionally have to fly lower than normal, due to weather conditions or aircraft weight. While it may appear that the aircraft is dangerously low, this is rarely the case.

Why aren’t the noisiest planes banned?

Australia has one of the most modern, quietest fleet of aircraft in the world. The overwhelming majority of aircraft operating in Australia already meet or exceed the latest noise standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). A few older aircraft have been ‘hush kitted’ to ensure that they meet the minimum standard required to operate in Australia.

Why can’t circuit training be banned at my local airport?

Circuit training is the first, vital stage of practical pilot training focused on take-offs and landings. It involves the pilot making approaches to the runway, touching down and then applying power to take off again.

This is undertaken in accordance with Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) Regulations which are consistent with international practices. Most airports have in place rules regarding when circuit training can be undertaken, as well as the size and location of the circuits, in order to limit the noise impacts on local residents.

Why can’t helicopters be banned from flying over residential areas?

Helicopters enable services to be provided that are of benefit to communities, including fire fighting, crime prevention, search and rescue, construction and media coverage. Because of the nature of these flights, sometimes helicopters are required to fly over residential areas that are rarely flown over by other aircraft.

This means that noise can be particularly noticeable to people who are not accustomed to regular aircraft noise. That is why many airports have introduced agreements with operators to reduce the impact of helicopter operations – including flight paths that follow unpopulated routes, minimising hovering and if unavoidable, hovering above set heights were possible and avoiding sharp manoeuvres.

How can I join my local Community Aviation Consultation Group?

The membership of CACGs varies, depending on the characteristics of the airport and local issues of community concern. Some are open meetings, some are closed and some are closed but have regular public meetings. All CACGs, however, include community representatives. CACGs are administered by airports, and you should contact the relevant airport to find out whether you can attend a meeting or how you can ensure that your views are taken into account.