Flight paths for Perth Airport are designed around military airspace to the north, west and south, and Jandakot Airport airspace to the south. Military restricted areas are shown in pink in the image at right. Click to enlarge and use your back button to return to this page.
Military airspace (see image at right) can be active to ground level or it can begin at a certain altitude. Some military airspace is active only at certain times of the day and week. Where possible, flight paths are designed to remain under military airspace or to fly over the top of it. The close proximity of RAAF Base Pearce to the north means that air traffic controllers at Perth Airport have to coordinate their actions with RAAF controllers, including for changes of runway direction.
Jet arrivals into Perth are generally aligned with the runway at least ten kilometres from the airport. From this point they will fly towards the runway in a straight line. This means that suburbs in line with the runways are overflown by arriving jets. Other suburbs may be overflown by aircraft proceeding towards the point at which they join the final approach and align with the runway.
Runways 03, 21 and 24 have Instrument Landing Systems. This type of approach requires aircraft to be at around 3000 feet when they begin their approach. Aircraft will descend steadily to the runway using the horizontal and vertical guidance provided by the system.
There is no minimum altitude for aircraft in process of landing. Aircraft will generally descend on a glide slope of three degrees.
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. A Smart Tracking approach was implemented to Runway 03 in 2015.
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.
Around 60 per cent of all departures from Perth Airport depart to the south from Runway 21. Nearly two-thirds of this 60 per cent are heading for the eastern states and international ports such as New Zealand. These flights will turn left (east) from Runway 21. Around 40 per cent of this 60 per cent are aircraft heading for destinations to the west, north and north-west such as South Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Karratha, Paraburdoo and Port Hedland. These aircraft will turn right (west) after departure from Runway 21.
When Runway 03 is in use aircraft with westerly and northerly destinations will turn left. Some will continue northwards if military airspace is not active. Runway 03 is often used in combination with Runway 06, that is, both runways will be in use for departures at the one time. This means that air traffic controllers can only turn aircraft departing from Runway 03 right if it will not conflict with traffic departing Runway 06. When Runway 06 is used for departures, most of the domestic traffic to the eastern states will use that runway which minimises the need for aircraft to turn right from Runway 03.
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 path swathes 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 within the ‘about aircraft operations’ pages at the bottom of this webpage.