Wayne Thompson

Wayne Thompson is a NZ Herald reporter.

Flight path fears remain

Landing-approach trial ends today but residents not convinced all the noise will end

One Royal Oak resident says the trial has turned a lot of peoples' lives into hell. Photo / Getty
One Royal Oak resident says the trial has turned a lot of peoples' lives into hell. Photo / Getty

A year-long trial change in the landing approach for some flights to Auckland International Airport will end today after months of residents complaining of increased noise from lower-flying aircraft.

However, Epsom resident Toni Walker said tomorrow will be the crucial day for those in the suburbs under the so-called "Smart Approaches" trial.

"The airport has guaranteed that a report on the trial will be completed in the first quarter of next year and will be open to public review and that Smart Approaches will not be put in place without further consultation.

"But there's still the fact that there have been other changes to flight paths without public consultation as well and we've been told what we have been hearing is not a Smart Approach plane. So when the Smart Approaches trial stops we will be wanting to see what happens. So, does all the noise disappear or is there something else going on?"

Mrs Walker said residents had attended two public meetings to protest about increased noise over their homes.

Have you been affected? We'd like to hear from you. Email us here.

One of them drew 300 people and another 200 as well as politicians.

Residents were still wanting answers. An incorporated society was formed to handle the onus which had been put on the public to make its own investigations and monitoring to prove that the airport had changed the way flights came in.

Royal Oak resident Lorraine Clark, of the Plane Truth Action Group, said she attended a meeting last week set up by Maungakiekie MP Sam Lotu-Liga, with representatives of the airport, Airways NZ and Board of Airline Representatives of NZ to discuss a list of questions dating back to the last public meeting.

"It was disappointing. The trial has turned a lot of peoples' lives into hell. They are still not getting sleep, are woken several times a night and we intend to stop it one way or the other."

Mr Lotu-Liga said 43 specific questions had gone to the airport and some of them required flights data going back three years for independent analysis.

Complaints received by his electorate office had resulted in two noise monitoring devices being installed in affected residential areas of Oranga and One Tree Hill. Mr Lotu-Liga said the airport also agreed to expand its noise consultation group to include representatives from affected areas.

Airport general manager for aeronautical operations, Judy Nichol, said a "decent time" would be allowed for public feedback when the trial review report came out before this final report was issued later next year.

The airport was a few weeks away from responding to all feedback on the trial because of the volume received by phone and by email. "We are genuine about wanting to listen to what the community says."

Four noise monitors were added to three already in the approach areas, as a result of feedback.

She said a new "collaborative arrivals" air traffic management system started in April by Airways NZ was not a contributor to increased noise.

Smart Approaches trial
November 2012-October 31, 2013

3 Aviation agencies taking part to monitor noise and benefits.

3 Airlines - Air New Zealand, Qantas and Jetstar used satellite navigation to follow a curved approach to the runway in a more continuous descent.

10 Fights a day maximum between 7am and 10pm.

27km Flying distance saved each landing.

- NZ Herald

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