Gold Coast Airport

Investigations

Airservices proactively works with the airport and the community to investigate, trial and implement changes to improve aircraft noise outcomes.

When considering flight path changes that have the potential to provide noise improvements, safety is always the primary consideration. The efficient operation of the airport is also a key factor taken into account. The effect on the community of any proposal is always considered holistically. Proposals that shift noise from one part of the community to another generally are not considered to be noise improvements unless they clearly provide a reduction in overall noise impacts.

For more information about how air traffic control works, see our easy-to-understand booklet, Guide to our operations.

Investigations conducted at Gold Coast Airport include:

Increased General Aviation Activity during the COVID-19 Pandemic - March 2020

Airservices conducted a comprehensive investigation in response to complaints about increased general aviation activity, including training.

The Investigation Report sets out the findings of the comprehensive investigation.

This investigation has found that Airservices ATC are complying with Noise Abatement Procedures when providing circuit training, including distributing between the east and west sides of the airport.

Flight training schools and Gold Coast Airport have worked together to provide a reduced service which provides a slight noise mitigation to residents in the evening.

We have been unable to find any further recommendations to mitigate this unexpected noise increase, as Gold Coast Airport and the flight schools have already adopted measures in response to community concerns.

The result is a temporary change to operations and resultant change to the experience of aircraft noise in certain suburbs that is distressing to some residents. This is acknowledged, and the impact upon some residents has been further exacerbated by government requirements to stay at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

When this current COVID-19 health crises passes, and as air traffic levels return to normal, operations at Gold Coast Airport will return to standard practice, and training aircraft will again be restricted due to other operations.

Short helicopter flights April 2018 update

Airservices conducted a comprehensive investigation in response to complaints about greatly increased short helicopter flights. A summary and earlier investigation of this issue is documented in the ‘short helicopter flights’ tab below.

The Investigation Report sets out the findings of the comprehensive investigation.

Unfortunately, no safe, practical or feasible changes to the way air traffic control manage these flights were identified in our investigation. The report discusses the reasons why this is the case.

Gold Coast Runway 14 southern departures flight path trial

Some aircraft departing from Runway 14 (to the south) fly over residential areas near the airport, including Banora Point and Chinderah. A proposed change to this flight path was submitted to Airservices in 2012-13 by residents groups to the south of Gold Coast Airport. It aimed to reduce the noise impacts for residents by directing jet departures from Runway 14 to the south-west to maximise tracking over the Banora Point Golf Course.

Aircraft commenced flying the modified flight path in January 2015 under a 12-month trial which concluded in January 2016. This timeframe covered normal seasonal patterns and allowed the community to provide their feedback about the trial.

After conclusion of the trial a review was undertaken which included consideration of community feedback received and data from noise monitoring undertaken to determine whether there was any increase or reduction of noise experienced by local residents.

Airservices considers the trial did not achieve the intended noise reductions. The trial also unintentionally concentrated flights over Farrants Hill. Due to this, and in consideration of community feedback, Airservices decided not to implement the trial flight path permanently.

Reinstatement of the Runway 14 departure procedure took effect on 23 June 2016. Reinstating the pre-trial departure flight path required Airservices to update procedures in compliance with current design rules and limitations that were updated in 2015. The waypoint locations are exactly the same, however, the waypoint closest to the runway had to be changed from a fly-by to a fly-over.

Trial outcome factsheet
Review of the trial
Noise monitoring report
Further information and map showing pre-trial and post-trial flight paths (see under Gold Coast southern departures reinstatement)

Altitude of Air Asia departures over Fingal Head
A complainant raised a concern that Air Asia flights varied in altitude, with an evening flight being lower than a morning flight. The investigation found that there was an altitude difference, but that this was due to the different destinations of each flight. The morning flight was bound for Auckland, a much closer port than the destination of the evening flight, Kuala Lumpur. The evening flight therefore carried a higher load of fuel to cover the distance of 6500 kilometres to Malaysia compared to the 2200 kilometre distance to Auckland. The weight of an aircraft will affect its climb performance and it was this effect being noticed by the complainant.

Short helicopter flights
A number of complainants from areas south of the airport contacted NCIS about helicopters doing repetitive circuits of the area. The investigation found that this was an operator based at Gold Coast Airport whose website advertises a number of different flight packages including five and ten minute quick flights over the local area.

The short, repetitive nature of the flights and the quick turnaround between them meant that the residents under the flight path were experiencing helicopter traffic at least every half hour for a number of hours each day.

Airservices contacted the chief pilot and the suggestion was made that if they could vary the flight path this would reduce the amount of noise to a more acceptable level. As the complainants live close to the airport they are used to a certain level of noise. The chief pilot was willing to attempt to vary the short flight path wherever possible.

More information about helicopter operations.

Curfew operates in Queensland time during NSW daylight saving periods
When NSW is on daylight saving time the airport curfew operates on Queensland time with the result that NSW residents can be exposed to aircraft movements until 12 am instead of 11 pm. A complainant asked Airservices to investigate whether the preferred runway under the noise abatement procedures could be changed to Runway 32 (rather than Runway 14) between 10 pm and 11 pm Queensland time during NSW daylight saving periods.

Data analysis of movements between 10 pm and 11 pm over three months found that movement numbers were low at this time. There were no movements at all on 33 nights, one movement on 34 nights, two movements on 17 nights, and three to four movements on seven nights.

Comparison of runway usage during the data collection period showed that usage of either runway at this time of year appeared to be almost equally shared, which weakened the case for a change of runway preference.

Because there are approximately three times more arrival movements than departures, for suburbs south of the airport, the proposed change would have a greater negative effect on those areas that are affected by arrival traffic than the positive effect it could have on some areas affected by departure traffic. All these areas south of the airport are in NSW and as such would be on daylight saving time.

The proposal was considered feasible from a safety and efficiency perspective. However, the low number of flights per night in the time period, the fact that many of these are spread between the north and south of the airport, and the fact that the majority of operations are arrivals rather than departures, indicated that any noise improvement would be minimal. While there might be very small benefits for residents to the south of the Airport that are not overflown by arrival traffic, such as the residents of Fingal Head, this is a small population compared to the area that would either receive no benefit or would experience a worsening of their situation, such as suburbs within NSW under the arrival path and suburbs to the north such as Tugun and Currumbin.

Airservices commitment is to look at the best possible outcomes for the entire Gold Coast community. On balance, it was found that there are insufficient departures between 10.00pm and 11.00 pm during daylight savings periods to outweigh potential negative impacts of the proposed change on other areas and qualify as a noise improvement for the whole community.

Virgin Australia 'early turns'

Complainants living in Banora Point had raised the issue of Virgin Australia Boeing 737s making early turns over residential areas on departure from Runway 14. Airservices Noise Complaints and Information Service investigated the complaints and confirmed this was occurring.

Virgin Australia subsequently discovered a variation with the way some crews were entering data into the aircraft’s flight management system and issued a crew notice to correct this. Since the notice took effect there have been no further complaints from residents on this matter.

Can the departure path over Fingal Head be widened?

The purpose was to spread out the jet departure paths for flights to specific destinations (Malaysia, New Zealand, Japan, Townsville, Mount Isa and Cairns) in order to reduce the noise exposure to residents at Fingal Head whilst maintaining minimal impact to other residential areas. The trial achieved its intended purpose of reducing movements over the central area of Fingal Head, however community consultation showed that there was no community support for the trial to be implemented permanently. As such the amended flight path was not permanently implemented and the investigation was closed. Read the post implementation review report

Community Consultation

Community Aviation Consultation Group (CACG) meetings are independent forums where community members and organisations can raise opinions and issues. These meetings address planning and development issues as well as operational matters such as aircraft noise and provide an opportunity for communication and consultation, although may not be public forums.

Airservices attends the Gold Coast Airport Community Aviation Consultation Group (CACG) meetings to provide information to the community and assist in discussions on aviation matters.