New short-cut flight paths over Auckland which promise to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, burn less fuel and fly more quietly are being welcomed by residents after changes were made to lessen the noise impact.
Two of Auckland Airport's smart flight paths, using satellite-based navigation approaching Auckland from the north and a third on an existing corridor from the south, will be used from mid-2015.
The satellite-guided flight approaches is a joint project called Smart Approaches between the Auckland Airport, Airways New Zealand and the Board of Airline Representatives. The flight paths have been altered following feedback from concerned residents earlier this year who argued the aircraft were too low and too noisy as they flew over Epsom, Royal Oak, One Tree Hill and Onehunga before landing on the runway.
Auckland Airport general manager of aeronautical operations Judy Nicholl said flight paths had been made higher in places and the curves of the approaches had been widened so the aircraft did not have to use brakes which made it quieter for residents.
However this meant that the flight path had moved slightly, about 1km, from the trial path and now included parts of Ellerslie and Greenlane.
Lorraine Clark, a spokeswoman for protest group Auckland: The Plane Truth, which was set up to lobby the airport, said it was a step in the right direction, but it was hard to know how much quieter the alterations would be until they experienced it.
She said the introduction of more flight paths in the future would also help disperse the noise so the same residents were not having such a large number of planes fly over their houses. "Everyone can cope with a few flights and quiet night flying which they can do.
It's just the concentration and accumulation over a day and constant barrage."
BARNZ executive director John Beckett said satellite guidance enabled aircraft to fly a gentler, steadier, curved flight path.
The new method - in-line with international practices - allowed aircraft engines to run at close to idle which reduced fuel burn, cut carbon emissions and allowed aircraft to land more efficiently.
Each of the new flight paths using smart approaches from the north will be used no more than 10 times a day. The flight path from the south was on an existing corridor so was not new noise. They will only be used between 7am and 10pm.
The original smart approach routes were trialled between November 2012 and October 2013. A fourth approach from the north was being developed for trial and public consultation in 2015.