Wayne Thompson

Wayne Thompson is a NZ Herald reporter.

New approach for controversial Auckland plane route

Photo / Paul Estcourt
Photo / Paul Estcourt

What do you think about the new approach? Email us here.

Satellite-based navigation landing approaches tested for Auckland International Airport will be restarted in early next year but future aircraft must pass 800 feet higher over Mt Albert and Dominion Roads in order to reduce engine power and noise.

The year's trial of a continuous curved descent to the north of the airport ended last October after months of residents complaining of noise from lower flying aircraft.

After a long study of the benefits of the "Smart Approaches" flight paths, the trial partners Airways NZ, Auckland Airport and the Board of Airlines Representatives (Barnz) have released a draft report for public feedback.

The second recommendation of the draft report is to increase maximum permitted aircraft speed, thereby reducing the use of speed brakes which are a significant contributor to aircraft noise.

Barnz executive director John Beckett said the environmental benefits of Smart Approaches presented an exciting opportunity for the industry.

"We believe fuel and carbon savings can be achieved, and at the same time noise impacts on the Auckland community can be reduced."

Auckland Airport's general manager of aeronautical operations Judy Nicholl said the recommendations in the draft report "respond appropriately to both community concern and the aviation objectives of the trial".

"We now look forward to receiving public feedback on the recommendations."

Airways New Zealand's general manager systems operator, Pauline Lamb said the trial was part of the Government's National Airspace Policy to improve safety and efficiency and to align New Zealand with the global shift to satellite based navigation.

"This trial has been an important step in ensuring New Zealand keeps pace with international best-practice, while at the same time limiting the impact of flight paths on the community."

Read also:
Plane-noise protesters fear not being heard
Anonymous donor gives aircraft noise campaign a big lift

Analysis of public feedback on the trial found only 24 per cent of flights identified in the complaints feedback were actually operating Smart Approaches.

Most related to aircraft on existing flight paths and a significant amount of feedback was about a certain aircraft procedure known as visual flight approaches, which allow for aircraft to fly lower than Smart Approaches over residential areas.

In order to address this, the draft report also recommends that the practice of visual flight approaches cease for wide-body jet aircraft approaching from the north from September this year and for all jets from September 2015.

Read the draft report here:

During the trial, independent acoustics consultants measured the impact of Smart Approaches on noise levels over residential areas.

The experts determined that while individual Smart flights had marginally higher noise levels (approximately three decibels higher on average), the difference was not regarded as significant and would be expected to be only just perceptible to the human ear.

The one exception to this was at Reinheimer Place in Flat Bush, where the difference was a perceptible seven decibels.

During the course of the trial, aircraft using the northern Smart flight paths (about five per day) flew 25,000 fewer nautical miles, resulting in a 739,000 kilogramme reduction in carbon dioxide emissions and a 234,000 kilogramme reduction in fuel use.

The trial found Smart Approaches reduced flight times and led to a significant reduction in fuel burn and carbon emissions.

The global move towards the satellite based navigation technology used in the Smart Approaches flight path trial is embraced by the International Civil Aviation Organisation which aims to reduce the impact of aviation on the environment and communities, while maintaining safety levels.

Submissions can be made until 5pm on Friday, 27 June 2014 either online or by completing the submission form at the flightpath website here.

Auckland Airport, Airways New Zealand and Barnz will also hold a series of consultation forums to receive submissions.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a1 at 23 Aug 2014 17:43:36 Processing Time: 764ms