Why do I need to enter an email and screen name to submit a comment?

    When you submit a comment we ask for your email and screen name (or prompt you to log-in if you already have an account with Engage Airservices). This is so we can respond directly to your comments. In the ‘screen name’ field you can choose to enter you own name or select a username. Your comments will not be public and we will respond to you directly.    

    What is a flight path?

    The term ‘flight path’ is used to refer to the mapped three-dimensional corridor where aircraft fly most of the time. Flight paths can be a number of kilometres wide, rather than the single lines depicted on flight charts (maps). Aircraft may fly differently within these corridors for a range of reasons, including aircraft performance (including type, speed and weight), and navigation systems. Aircraft may deviate from flight paths for a range of reasons, including weather and operational requirements. In controlled airspace, this will be at the approval of air traffic control (ATC).

    Why does Airservices make changes to flight paths?

    We may make changes to flight paths for a variety of reasons including:

    • Safety and/or efficiency enhancements to respond to current or forecast increases in volume or changes to aircraft operations at a location
    • Safety and/or efficiency improvements based on feedback from ATC, airlines and/or pilots
    • Directives from the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications (DITRDC) and or Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA)
    • Community-suggested safe and feasible noise improvements 
    • Recommendations from CASA airspace reviews
    • Recommendations from CASA compliance audits and re-validation of flight procedures
    • Technological advancements in aircraft navigation or aircraft performance 
    • Airport infrastructure changes resulting in new or changing flight paths.

    Will the Principles apply to all flight path changes?

    The Principles apply to future changes and will not be applied retrospectively to flight paths that are currently implemented nor to projects that have commenced at the time of publication.

    The Principles apply only to flight paths designed by Airservices. Other organisations, certified by CASA, are able to design flight paths within Australia and they are not obligated to apply the Principles.  

    There are a number of constraints and considerations that mean that the Principles may not be able to apply to all flight path changes. For example, flight path design can be constrained by the location of an airport and the runway/s orientation, the local weather and meteorological conditions, the natural and/or urban terrain, aircraft performance and/or navigation capability, or the existing air traffic network and airspace architecture. 

    Principles will be applied wherever practicable, and where this is not possible, we will explain why.

    Why will the Principles not be applied retrospectively to flight paths that are currently implemented or to projects that have commenced at the time of publication?

    Flight paths that are currently implemented or projects that have commenced have been developed with reference to the guiding principles in Airservices Commitment to Aircraft Noise Management (2013). These Principles will supersede this document and will apply to all future flight path changes.

    Are the Principles weighted?

    Safety is our most important consideration and all flight path changes must be compliant. The Safety and Compliance Principles must always apply. 

    The remaining Principles are not weighted.

    All other Principles are considered equally in the flight path change process, noting that all Principles may not apply to every flight path change. 

    How do the Principles interact with each other?

    There may be situations were application of one Principle impacts on the application of another Principle. For example avoiding overflight of noise sensitive sites, may result in reduced efficiency, and therefore impact on the environment through increased fuel burn and emissions. 

    Once ensuring safety and compliance, we will consider all other Principles holistically and will not look at any one Principle in isolation..      

    Do the Principles apply when there is existing legislation?

    There may be situations where the Principles cannot be fully applied due to legislative requirements. For example the Principles and Application Notes do not vary the Long Term Operating Plan (LTOP) for Sydney Airport, or legislated airport curfew acts.

    Are the Principles listed in order of importance?

    Safety is our most important consideration and all flight path changes must be compliant. The Safety and Compliance Principles must always apply. Therefore these two Principles are listed first. 

    All other Principles are considered equally in the flight path change process and therefore are not listed in order of importance. 

    Why have you released Application Notes?

    In response to stakeholder feedback we have developed Application Notes to assist in understanding how the Principles will be applied.

    The Application Notes provide an overview of each Principle, including their context within flight path changes, how we consider, apply and monitor them, and the overarching governance that applies. We have included additional sources of information, and noted cases where the Principle may not apply.    

    Why did you hold on-site engagement in some locations and not others?

    We used a range of approaches to engage with stakeholders, including a National Online Survey, six Face-to-Face Community Workshops, three Industry Stakeholder Panels, and two Community Pop-up Stalls.  

    Locations for Community Workshops, Industry Stakeholder Panels, and Community Pop-up Stalls were selected to ensure we heard views from across Australia. In selecting locations, we ensured that we reflected a range of aircraft operations (including general aviation, civilian and military), included both capital city and regional areas, and had access to broad community, government and industry representation. We also sought to hear from communities with a variety of flight path change experience, including those who had not experienced recent changes, those where we had recently implemented flight path changes and those where future changes are planned. 

    To ensure we were able to hear the views of all stakeholders, regardless of location, we promoted the Online Survey through our Engage Airservices webpage and by direct correspondence to stakeholders, including a mail out to over 5,400 community members registered with our Noise Complaints and Information Service.

    Why where some participants recruited for Community Workshops?

    To ensure a broad, and demographically diverse representation of the local population, some participants for the Community Workshops were recruited by Newgate Australia through randomised selection from postcodes out to 50 kilometres from airports.

    How has stakeholder feedback shaped the development of the Flight Path Design Principles?

    National consultation on the draft Flight Path Design Principles commenced on 14 January 2020 and closed on 9 March 2020. During this time thousands of people contributed to the draft Flight Path Design Principles national consultation, either through the online survey, participating in workshops or by providing submissions. 

    For a summary of what we heard, access a copy of the Stakeholder Consultation Outcomes Summary Report here.

    The below summary provides a comparison of the draft and final principles and the rationale for change.

    Why has the safety of communities on the ground not been added as a Principle?

    Airservices legislated role in aviation safety under the Air Services Act 1995 is to “regard the safety of air navigation as the most important consideration”. The safety of air navigation ensures the safety and protection of aircraft passengers and communities under the flight paths.  

    There are many other parties with a range of responsibilities for managing aviation safety within Australia, including CASA, Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), airlines and operators, pilots, airports, and aircraft manufacturers. These parties are also responsible for elements of aviation safety, outside of Airservices obligations to the safety of aviation navigation.

    Why has physical and mental health impacts of aircraft noise not been added as a Principle?

    Under the Air Services Act 1995, Airservices has an obligation to provide environmentally responsible services by minimising the environmental impact of aircraft operations, including the impact of aircraft noise. However, there are no regulations which specify a maximum, allowable level of aircraft noise.

    In recognition of community feedback about the impact of aircraft noise, we have included the following in several Principles:

    • we consider concentrating aircraft operations to avoid defined noise sensitive sites – including residential buildings
    • where high-density residential areas are exposed to noise, we consider flight path designs that distribute aircraft operations, so that noise can be shared
    • where noise exposure is unavoidable, we consider Noise Abatement Procedures that adjust aircraft operations to reduce noise impacts, including consideration of the time of these operations
    • we consider current and expected future noise exposure when designing flight paths.