Flight paths are not precise, defined paths like runways, but more like corridors that are often several kilometres wide.
Arriving aircraft will line up with the runway centreline and fly straight in on the runway heading. For jet arrivals to Runway 14 this will occur mostly over water, before crossing the coast around Currumbin Creek and flying over Currumbin and Tugun. Coastal suburbs further north such as Palm Beach will also be able to see and hear jet aircraft flying quite close to the coastline. Non-jets and smaller non-commercial jets may fly slightly different approaches.
Jet arrivals to Runway 32 will cross the coast over Kingscliff and overfly suburbs to the south of the airport such as Chinderah, Banora Point and Tweed Heads South.
A growing number of modern aircraft are now fitted with navigation systems that use satellite-assisted guidance which allow aircraft to fly with a higher degree of accuracy and more closely follow the same route as other aircraft. Airservices refers to these routes as ‘Smart Tracking‘. Smart Tracking technology makes air travel safer, cleaner and more dependable. It also has the potential to improve noise outcomes for communities living close to airports. At Gold Coast Airport between 60 and 70 per cent of arriving aircraft use Smart Tracking approaches.
There is no minimum altitude for aircraft in process of landing. Aircraft will generally descend on a glide slope of three degrees.
Departure flight paths allow aircraft to maintain the runway heading for a short time until they are stabilised in flight, and then to turn towards the route that will take them to their destination. Non-jets are turned off towards their headings soon after departure and jets will generally remain on the runway heading for longer.
Jet departures from Runway 14 will turn left if they are bound for eastern or north-eastern ports such as New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore and Cairns. Departures heading for southern ports such as Sydney and Melbourne will turn to the south-west around Chinderah.
Sometimes an aircraft will be directed to continue southwards on runway heading longer before turning to its destination. This generally occurs for traffic management purposes, for example, to ensure safe separation is maintained with arrival traffic travelling northwards up the coast.
Jet departures from Runway 32 will turn eastwards as soon as possible to minimise overflight of residential areas. However they will pass over Tugun, Currumbin and parts of Palm Beach.
The altitude of aircraft after departure will depend on factors such as the type of aircraft and its weight, how heavily laden it is with fuel and passengers, and the atmospheric conditions at the time. All these factors affect an aircraft’s climb rate. There is no regulated minimum altitude for an aircraft in the process of taking off.
Flight path information
See below for images of typical flight paths and how frequently they were used in the quarter indicated. Please note that aircraft do fly outside the shown swathes. For example, the swathes do not extend to all the areas that are overflown by arriving aircraft prior to aligning with the runway, or show the full length of departure flight paths. Further, aircraft may be directed off the usual flight paths for reasons including the need to avoid bad weather or for traffic management, that is, to ensure safe separation between aircraft. See WebTrak for further information about where aircraft fly. More explanation is also available in the Why Aircraft Fly Where They Do fact sheet.