Gold Coast Airport has two runways; the main runway, Runway 14/32 (2.3 km long) is orientated north west – south east and the smaller cross runway, Runway 17/35 (0.6km) is orientated north-south.
Each runway is referred to differently according to in which direction it is being used. For example the main runway is known as Runway 32 when used in a northerly direction and Runway 14 when used in a southerly direction. Runway numbering reflects the runways’ orientation and correlates with degrees on a compass. Runway 32 is 320 degrees.
An Instrument Landing System has been approved by the Minister for installation on Runway 14.
Runway selection and seasonal winds
Runway selection is based on wind direction, weather conditions, traffic volume and other factors. See the Runway Selection fact sheet for more details. Aircraft primarily take-off and land into the wind for safety and performance reasons. Therefore, as the wind direction changes the runway in operation may also change depending on the strength of the wind.
This means that Gold Coast’s seasonal wind patterns affect usage of the different runway directions. Throughout most of the year, the wind at Gold Coast Airport tends to be from the south to south-east which means greater use of Runway 14 with aircraft departing to the south and arriving from the north. During the spring months, the wind tends to be from the north which means greater use of Runway 32 with aircraft departing to the north and arriving from the south.
Noise abatement procedures
Noise abatement procedures are designed to help reduce the impact of aircraft noise on communities. While they are applied whenever it is possible to do so, their use is not mandatory and is subject to weather conditions and traffic requirements.
Noise abatement procedures at Gold Coast Airport include:
- Runway 14 is the preferred runway for all arriving and departing flights
- arriving aircraft fly over water for as long as possible before taking their final approach course
- circuit training is not permitted between 10 pm and 6 am and, where possible, circuits are distributed equally left and right of the runway in use
A ‘preferred runway’ does not mean that one area (north or south) will get all the traffic, because each area will get either departures or arrivals, not both. In addition, preferred runways can only be used when weather, safety and operational efficiency allow.
Runway 14 (arrivals from the north, departures to the south) is the preferred runway because generally arriving aircraft are slightly quieter than departing aircraft at a close distance to an airport (for example, at Tugun). As the distance from the airport increases (for example, Banora Point and Tweed Heads), departures tend to be quieter than arrivals because they are at a higher altitude. However this is dependent on aircraft type. Individual people will experience aircraft noise in different ways.
Airservices conducts regular reviews to check the effectiveness of noise abatement procedures and to seek improvements. In 2012, Airservices undertook a review of Gold Coast Airport procedures and found there was a high level of compliance.
Gold Coast Airport also has a ‘Fly Neighbourly Agreement’ in place with local aircraft operators. Under this agreement, operators commit to undertake operations in a manner which is considerate to local residents whilst maintaining safe operation of aircraft.
The agreement emphasises compliance with all noise abatement procedures including the need to minimise flight over built-up areas; to avoid low flying over populated areas; to ensure that environmental awareness and noise issues are included in pilot training and that community enquiries about noise are addressed in a cooperative manner.
Fly Neighbourly Agreements are voluntary, and are not legally enforceable. There will be times when such agreements cannot be complied with due to operational requirements.