Melbourne Airport has around 200,000 aircraft movements per year mostly passenger jets. The majority of operations at Melbourne Airport are international and domestic regular passenger services, mostly medium to large jets. Melbourne Airport had 29 million passengers pass through its terminal in 2012.
Runway use at Melbourne Airport is seasonal. In winter the wind at Melbourne Airport tends to be from the north and the west. This means that aircraft tend to depart to the north and west over areas which are generally not residential, and arrive over suburbs to the south and east of the airport.
In summer, winds from the south and south west are more common and aircraft tend to take off to the south over residential areas and arrive over largely non-residential areas to the north. When wind conditions permit, preferred runways are applied to minimise noise impacts on residential areas.
Melbourne Airport is surrounded by ‘green-wedge’ corridors to the west and north, or non urban areas of metropolitan Melbourne. Where possible, flights are directed over these areas, thereby avoiding residential areas.
For example, aircraft are generally routed to avoid flying over areas such as Bulla, Sunbury, Craigieburn, Keilor, Sydenham, St Albans, Greenvale and Meadow Heights. If flying over these suburbs cannot be avoided, aircraft are required to fly at a minimum height over these areas.
Jet departures at Melbourne Airport reach a higher altitude closer to the airport than arrivals and also deviate from runway alignment closer to the airport, around 10km from runway end. Departing jets tend to be louder than arrivals, as they use more power to maintain their climb.
At night, noise abatement procedures are in place for aircraft to depart to the north when conditions permit, over areas that are less populated. Suburbs in line with the runways to about 15km are flown over by jet arrivals.
Legend: Red = Jet Arrivals, Green = Jet Departures
Melbourne Airport has released its preliminary draft 2013 master plan. This website includes information about how the airport manages noise as well as a ‘noise tool’, which helps residents understand future noise impacts around the airport. The Master Plan states that Melbourne Airport has chosen the east-west runway as its preferred option for the airport’s third runway. Planning approval for a new runway will be required through the Major Development Plan process.